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Tue, Jan. 5, 3:49 AM
- New York City will begin this month replacing thousands of pay phones with free Wi-Fi hot spots that will sit atop a 9.5-foot tall box featuring electronic advertising screens and an Android tablet that can be used to place free phone calls.
- The $200M project, called LinkNYC, is being run by CityBridge, a joint venture between three tech companies: Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), CIVIQ Smartscapes, and Intersection (which has backing from Alphabet).
- "Free abundant Wi-Fi at those speeds could give people living in NYC, the country's largest market, a reason to spend less on wireless data services from carriers such as Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T)," said Craig Moffett, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson.
Sun, Jan. 3, 9:16 AM
- When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines 18 months ago regarding the radiation risk from cellphones, it used unusually bold language: "We recommend caution in cellphone use."
- Within weeks, though, the CDC reversed course. It no longer recommended caution, and deleted a passage specifically addressing potential risks for children.
- Mainstream scientific consensus currently holds that there is little to no evidence that cellphone signals raise the risk of brain cancer or other health problems. Nevertheless, more than 500 pages of internal records obtained by NYT, along with interviews with former agency officials, reveal a debate and some disagreement among scientists and health agencies about what guidance to give as the use of mobile devices skyrockets.
- Related tickers: NOK, AAPL, BBRY, MSI, SNE, VZ, TMUS, T, S, OTC:SSNLF, OTC:HTCXF, OTCPK:ZTCOF, OTCPK:ZTCOY
Dec. 31, 2015, 5:13 PM
- T-Mobile (TMUS -1.6%) ended the year as the big winner among the U.S. wireless big four, finishing up 45% for 2015. AT&T was the only other to gain, and was up 2.4% for the year.
- Looking ahead, T-Mobile is already hoping to make a splash in the FCC's broadcast incentive auction of wireless airwaves, with CEO John Legere looking to be a "winner."
- "The lowband spectrum auctions will be the most important in recent U.S. history and will shape the future of the wireless industry for decades to come," Legere writes. "I predict that T-Mobile will walk away a winner."
- AT&T (T -1%) and Verizon (VZ -1.2%) will have more money to spend in the auction, but likely less interest, as both built their LTE networks on "beachfront" 700 MHz spectrum.
- Wells Fargo, though, has predicted that AT&T will spend the most (along with Verizon spending the least) in the sale. Sprint (S -0.3%; down 12.8% this year) has said it will sit it out.
Dec. 23, 2015, 3:03 AM
- Shortly after Marcelo Claure became chief executive of Sprint (NYSE:S) last year, he paid a small team of consultants at least $25M for advice to design a network quality plan that was largely never used, WSJ reports.
- The sum raised eyebrows among Sprint managers, and was eventually ended by Chairman Masayoshi Son, because of the contract price and the latter disagreed with many of the recommendations.
- Sprint, which hasn't reported annual profit since 2006, has been borrowing to sustain its cash use and had its junk credit rating lowered by Moody's in September.
Dec. 16, 2015, 3:05 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) has risen to a day's high, up 4.5%, as the post-FOMC market has picked up, but also after this afternoon's latest in the wireless industry's cavalcade of promos: a free TV.
- The carrier is offering a 32-inch Samsung LED TV with qualifying purchase/leases of Samsung Galaxy smartphones, in a one-week promotion ending Christmas Eve. It's available for switchers and existing customers who upgrade or add a line.
- That's atop the company's 50%-off promotion, still going on through Jan. 7.
Dec. 15, 2015, 4:09 PM
- Holiday trolling is still in vogue in the battle between Sprint (S +0.3%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +4.5%), as Sprint chief Marcelo Claure is sending a gift to competing employees with a special message.
- The company sent gift baskets with coffee, candy and snacks to T-Mobile employees with a card saying that while the two companies usually try to take business from each other, it's the season for giving.
- But an additional card with the basket says "Let's Move Forward. Together," and provides a link to Sprint's sales careers website.
- T-Mobile employees were told to throw out the baskets and avoid sharing on social media.
- Sprint's recent half-off promotion could be gaining it some 50,000 customers from T-Mobile alone this quarter, Jefferies analysts estimate.
Dec. 14, 2015, 3:39 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is off 3.6% and still hanging in December doldrums after the company this weekend named its third chief marketing officer in less than a year and a half.
- Roger Solé is taking over for Kevin Crull, who will lead one of the four geographic regions in the carrier's new organizational structure. Crull had assumed the position in May.l
- Solé had joined Sprint from Brazil's TIM Participaçöes, and was leading Sprint's efforts in acquisition marketing and marketing to the carrier's Hispanic customers.
- Among Sprint's struggles with cash burn and customer acquisition, marketing has been unsettled in the past 18 months as it has rapidly changed approaches and campaigns in an effort to stem losses.
- Shares have fallen 20% since hitting $4.46 on Nov. 18.
- Previously: Sprint restructuring: Four regional hubs, uniting sales channels (Nov. 13 2015)
Dec. 8, 2015, 3:16 PM
- A full 42 California government entities have joined a lawsuit against the big four U.S. wireless providers -- AT&T (T -1.8%), Verizon (VZ -1%), T-Mobile (TMUS +1.2%) and Sprint (S +3.2%) -- alleging that they overcharged government customers by more than $100M.
- The entities, which include Sacramento and Los Angeles Counties and the University of California Regents, say the four have ignored cost-saving requirements that are in their contracts with state and local government customers.
- The companies were required to determine the lowest-cost plan and provide that; failing to do so meant that the plaintiffs missed out on 20-30% cost reductions, the suit argues.
Dec. 7, 2015, 7:34 PM
- With a hot holiday season ahead, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has surpassed AT&T (NYSE:T) as the wireless industry's top advertising spender for November.
- Of a total $189.3M placing TV commercials, Verizon spent about $1.2M more than AT&T, for about 21.1% of the total, FierceWireless/iSpot.tv say.
- Those two were ahead of T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS). Meanwhile, Cricket Wireless, AT&T's prepaid brand, was the fourth-largest spender, putting big-four member Sprint (NYSE:S) in fifth place -- with about half of its spending going to its new half-off promotion.
Dec. 7, 2015, 6:47 PM
- A serious courtship between America's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless providers went sour in 2014 after the government made it clear it wanted four players, and since then merger speculation (particularly among suffering Sprint shareholders) has held that any new move wuold have to wait for a new administration.
- But what if the relationship could be rekindled earlier? Overtures toward wireless service from Comcast (CMCSA -0.6%), or other cable firms yet to express interest, could allow for a union between T-Mobile (TMUS +3.2%) and Sprint (S +2.8%) while maintaining the desired competitive players.
- Comcast started a process that would let it resell Verizon airwaves and acknowledged it was testing a service for a launch sometimes in the future. One catalyst could be a heavy bid into the March spectrum auction.
- "It seems clear that Sprint is playing for time, presumably to try again to merge with T-Mobile in 2017-18 under a new administration," says analyst Crag Moffett. "By then, Comcast will likely have bought spectrum in the TV broadcast auction, making it plausible to argue that a Sprint/T-Mobile combination can be called a five-to-four merger, not a four-to-three."
- Several outcomes are yet possible, though, and not all favor Sprint: Comcast could use an auction bid as a precursor for its own T-Mobile buyout; firms like Alphabet or Amazon.com could buy spectrum; or private investor Chamath Palihapitiya could succeed in an audacious plan to bid billions of dollars in the auction to create a new player called Rama.
- Previously: Comcast: Testing wireless service, but in no hurry to launch (Oct. 27 2015)
Dec. 2, 2015, 3:42 PM
- It won't be the most surprising development, but Moody's is forecasting that wireless price wars will prevent real expansion in industry margins in the coming year.
- The firm estimates revenues (including equipment) to grow 3-4% overall, but that EBITDA margins will expand about 1%.
- In a bid to steal customers from the top two -- AT&T (T -0.4%) and Verizon (VZ -1.4%) -- Sprint (S -2.1%) and T-Mobile (TMUS -0.9%) have been pushing aggressive promotions, from Sprint resurrecting a "cut your bill in half" idea to T-Mobile dangling $200 in front of Sprint switchers.
- AT&T won't be chasing customers this season, says Jefferies' Mike McCormack -- the company believes the subscriber base it's losing is coming from "mostly lower-value postpaid subscribers and prepaid," he says.
Nov. 25, 2015, 7:23 PM
- Wells Fargo has picked its winners in March's FCC broadcast incentive auction for wireless spectrum -- and it figures AT&T (T +0.2%) will dominate bidding that should total $30B-$35B.
- Analysts at the bank predict up to $10B spending coming from the telecom giant for a nationwide block of 2x10 MHz airwaves.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -3.7%) -- which has been signaling aggressive moves in the auction -- will be second, with $8B spent, the analysts said, while Verizon (VZ -0.6%) should be last with $5B in bids. Sprint (S -1.8%) has already said it's sitting this one out.
- While AT&T backtracked a bit on pledges to spend $9B while it was digesting DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), the analysts think the benefits of a nationwide block may signal higher spending from the company.
- Verizon, meanwhile, has credit to spend up to $10B, but probably won't: "Similar to what T has said publicly and based on our conversations with spectrum experts, we look for VZ to contribute in a meaningful way if 2x10MHz bands are made available."
- Previously: T-Mobile -2.2% as it pledges $200 for each Sprint line that switches (Nov. 25 2015)
- Previously: SoftBank spending: Arora on investment universe, Sprint worries (Nov. 24 2015)
Nov. 25, 2015, 10:20 AM
- It's been nearly straight down out of the open for T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), down 2.2% after it announced a special "holiday gift" for Sprint (S -0.5%) customers: $200 to switch carriers.
- That's on top of the up to $650 T-Mobile is offering to cover early termination fees and phone payment balances, and it's $200 for each line switched.
- "I cannot think of any wireless customers in more desperate need of some holiday cheer than those Sprint customers still hanging on over there," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "Those poor people have put up with the nation's slowest and smallest LTE network, and their carrier throwing out a deal-of-the-month for everyone except them."
- The deal includes switching any Sprint number (postpaid, prepaid, Boost or Virgin Mobile) to a T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid plan. It's effective starting Thursday.
- Legere promised additional "gifts" coming to Verizon and AT&T customers over the next few weeks.
Nov. 24, 2015, 7:52 PM
- SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY -1.6%) last month declared a plan to spread "several billions" each year in investments around the world, all set to be managed by president (and likely successor to Chairman Masayoshi Son) Nikesh Arora -- who certainly seems to prefer options in India over pouring more money into struggling Sprint (S +0.9%).
- In an interview with Bloomberg on his strategy, Arora says that while they're focusing on later-stage startups with proven products, there's "money to be made in any stage, as long as you identify the right company."
- While there are some 150 companies valued over $1B, Arora says there are about 1,000 companies over $500M: "That’s our universe. We believe with 1,000 companies we can interpret this universe and understand it with limited resources."
- He says the best thing they can offer startups is "operational insights," rather than investment strategy or fund-raising help.
- As for SoftBank trading at a discount to public assets: "There are three things that people worry about. One is what’s going to happen to Sprint. Two is what’s going on in China. And three is I hope Masa won’t do another Sprint." But as for Sprint, "Masa is unrelenting. He is working with [Sprint managers] almost every night for a few hours, 10 p.m. calls, or in the morning."
- Previously: SoftBank planning "several billions" in annual global investment (Oct. 22 2015)
- Previously: Sprint to target 'bloated' structure with $2.5B in cost cuts (Oct. 09 2015)
Nov. 23, 2015, 4:31 PM
- Sprint (S -1.2%) has hired Jorge Gracia as senior VP and general counsel, effective Jan. 2.
- He'll replace Charles Wunsch, who's held that spot since 2008, and report to CEO Marcelo Claure.
- Gracia was most recently general counsel at Samsung Electronics America, having joined there in 2013 after 17 years at Alcatel-Lucent. He has 25 years of experience in international corporate law.
Nov. 20, 2015, 8:00 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) -5% premarket following the announcement of $1.2B sale-leaseback plan.
- Under the plan, a group of investors including Sprint (S) majority owner Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCPK:SFTBY) will create a $1.2B into an entity to purchase the devices Sprint leases to customers.
- Sprint will then lease back the devices from the new venture, giving it fresh funding "at an attractive cost of capital which is well below Sprint's alternatives in the high-yield debt market."
- "Providing mobile devices to customers is the biggest use of cash in the carrier model, and with this new structure we have more closely aligned Sprint's cash flows with those associated with leasing devices to our customers," CFO Tarek Robbiati says.
- The move will boost free cash flow, but reduce 2015 Ebitda by ~$400M.
- Related: Sprint: Cost Cutting Is A Sign Of Desperation (Oct. 9)
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