Malone has history with AT&T. Granted, Malone made a fortune by selling Tele-Communications Inc. to the old AT&T, which had a penchant for overreaching megadeals. SBC Communications Inc. acquired AT&T and adopted its brand. In January, AT&T introduced a co-branded satellite television service with DirecTV. The new incarnation of AT&T is more conservative about its leverage, and the view that it will buy DirecTV is not universally held.
As the marketing pact between AT&T and DirecTV illustrates, satellite does fix a gap in the telcom's offerings.
"Our long-running thesis has been that the satellite companies combine with the telephone companies," Gamco's Marangi says.