Thu, May 14, 7:00 PM
- Bigger set-asides of spectrum for Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) would risk ruining the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, says Recon Analytics' Roger Entner.
- Smaller competitors have asked for rules that limit how much spectrum giants AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) could bid in, but that risks ire from television broadcasters who will be on the receiving end of the bids, he says: "The fewer the restrictions, the smaller the set-asides, the more revenue will be generated during the auction."
- T-Mobile and Sprint have enough spectrum, so he suggests a better idea is a 20 MHz set-aside for small rural operators. The FCC is reserving 30 MHz of an expected 70-80 MHz; opponents want a 40 MHz set-aside.
Tue, May 12, 3:28 PM
- Sprint (S -1%) will pay $68M and Verizon (VZ -0.4%) will pay $90M to settle cramming cases, where regulators charged that the carriers billed millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.
- Of the combined $158M, $120M will go in refunds to affected customers and another $38M in federal and state fines.
- Following on Sprint news earlier today, this means all of the big four carriers have agreed to pay compensation for cramming charges. Carriers generally stopped using the related premium messaging services after 2013.
- Previously: Sprint to pay $50M to settle cramming lawsuit (May. 12 2015)
Tue, May 12, 11:38 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) has offered as much as $50M in consumer reimbursements to settle a government lawsuit charging the company with cramming unauthorized charges onto bills between 2004 and 2013.
- The settlement would mean that Verizon is the only big-four carrier who hasn't faced a similar case, as AT&T and T-Mobile have settled their own cramming cases.
- In the settlement, set to be announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FCC and state attorneys general, Sprint doesn't admit or deny wrongdoing aside from whatever is stated in the final judgment.
Mon, May 11, 3:57 AM
- SoftBank's (OTCPK:SFTBY) chief executive Masayoshi Son has anointed the head of the firm's Internet investment arm, Nikesh Arora, as a future successor, but confirmed that he won't be retiring yet.
- The announcement followed the company's latest earning results that beat forecasts, despite the continuing struggles to turn around U.S. unit Sprint (NYSE:S).
- For the fiscal year that ended in March, SoftBank said its net income rose 29% to ¥763.7B, while revenue jumped 30%. Operating profit of ¥982.7B beat the ¥900 billion target the company set in November.
- SoftBank, however, failed to provide guidance for the current year, citing a "large number of uncertain factors."
Wed, May 6, 7:44 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) fell 3% today following a quarter where it reported turnaround still in progress, and just as its No. 1 challenge became clear over the past several month -- upgrade its network to keep up with giants AT&T and Verizon, and hold off T-Mobile -- its cash burn is back in focus, as asset investments aren't cheap.
- Citigroup's Michael Rollins says that Sprint will burn free cash flow of around $6.1B in 2015. And analyst Craig Moffett notes the company last quarter burned through $914M of its $3.5B cash-and-marketable-securities total; "At this rate, Sprint will run out of money around the 2016 (radio spectrum) incentive auction."
- For those looking for a white knight, majority owner SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) has more than $90B of its own debt to worry about. And Barclays pointed out that while cash burn is improving, visibility for Sprint's turnaround "remains elusive."
- In Sprint's earnings call, CFO Joseph Euteneuer was placid: "We're very comfortable with the liquidity here in the short-term, and as I said it will ultimately ... we'll look at two things. One, the continued growth of the business, and two, the final outcome of what we're going to do on a capital standpoint."
Tue, May 5, 8:49 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) was up 0.8% premarket as it posted a wider loss for its fiscal Q4 and lost core postpaid phone subscribers, but held off hard-charging T-Mobile in overall customers, 57.1M to 56.8M.
- Losses of $0.06 (A $0.05 adjusted loss) were expected, but revenue that dropped nearly 7% to $8.3B missed expectations by about $200M.
- The company posted 1.2M net adds to its platform -- including 211K postpaid net adds and 546 prepaid net adds -- but postpaid phone subscribers lost 201K on a net basis. Net platform adds were boosted by an increase of 349K tablet subscribers. Platform postpaid churn of 1.84% improved from 2.3% last quarter.
- Revenue breakout: Service revenue, $7.14B (down 9.4%); Equipment revenue, $1.14B (up 14.5%).
- Adjusted EBITDA of $1.74B beat an expected $1.67B.
- Press release
Tue, May 5, 7:13 AM
Mon, May 4, 9:57 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) reports earnings early Tuesday, and this is the quarter where watchers fear the company will lose its No. 3 status to T-Mobile -- which did its part by perhaps capturing effectively all of the industry's subscriber growth for the quarter.
- Revenues are expected to decline as much as 5% as the big four wireless firms continue their price war, and "We believe Sprint will be a postpaid phone loser for the quarter," says Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore. But: "The second story we see is an improvement in reported financial results — with the most important impact from leasing."
- Yet unknown is the impact of Sprint's deal to co-brand 1,400 former RadioShacks.
- Last quarter, postpaid average revenue per user declined both Y/Y and sequentially, to $58.90. The company reported a loss of $0.60/share on revenue that had fallen 1.9%.
Thu, Apr. 30, 11:55 AM
- Sprint (S -2.6%) has reached a deal to give its customers access to Boingo Wireless' Wi-Fi networks in 35 U.S. airports, including in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte and others.
- Phones will automatically connect and Wi-Fi calling will be available when connected, Sprint says.
- The telecom is also offering customers a free consumer router that prioritizes Sprint's Wi-Fi calls over other network traffic, as well as working on an outdoor small cell that incorporates Wi-Fi
Tue, Apr. 28, 8:42 PM
- During T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) Q1 earnings call, colorful CEO John Legere took another opportunity to hint at the tie-up that increasingly seems to be in the company's future: with a cableco that offers broadband.
- Just days after FCC opposition killed the Comcast-TWC merger, Legere pointed to the need to counterbalance AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which combine wireless service with broadband offerings and even TV business.
- Regulators seem to be opposed to cable-cable deals, and wireless-wireless deals like aborted plans for a Sprint (NYSE:S) merger with T-Mobile -- but Legere notes a natural fit may occur across industries: "The tangential players are touching mobile players in a way that makes a go-to-market strategy."
- Analyst Craig Moffett urges caution, as regulators might already see the two industries as competition. "Wireless broadband is clearly the FCC's best hope for a counter to cable's wired advantage. They might decide that they aren't ready to allow a combination like that."
- Possible cable suitors: CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC
- After earnings today, TMUS -0.3%.
- Related: T-Mobile US (TMUS) Q1 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript (Apr. 28 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile grows Q1 revenues 13%, adds 1.8M subscribers (Apr. 28 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile keeps fanning Dish partnership flames (Mar. 06 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 8:29 PM
- Google's Project Fi wireless MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service will piggyback on the networks of Sprint (S +2%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%) when it's not using Wi-Fi to route calls and data -- and while traffic is better than "no traffic," analysts at Cowen and Evercore say it won't mean much benefit for the two wireless firms.
- Colby Synesael of Cowen says that financial gains will be limited for the two (and for Google): It's all about Google trying to shape the market in ways that might eventually pay off. The offer is "compelling" on price and technology and could make a monetary difference if device support grows, but it's more likely about carriers making Fi's practices mainstream, he says.
- On price, the data giveback and international aspects of Fi could pressure AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to follow suit, Synesael writes.
- Evercore's Jonathan Schildkraut found the announcement in line with expectations, though "we also would not rule out a potential relationship between GOOG and the MSOs' Wi-Fi networks as another way to dis-intermediate the traditional carrier," he writes. "Not as Bad as Expected for T and VZ. We view the higher than expected toll to get on the network ($20) as likely better for carriers than anticipated."
- Previously: Google launches Fi mobile service - $20/month for voice/text, $10 per GB (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 5:35 PM
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Wed, Apr. 22, 2:07 PM
- As rumored, Google's (GOOG +1.1%) anticipated U.S. mobile service has launched today with the help of network partners Sprint (S +1.7%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%). Also as rumored, Google is pricing aggressively and providing free roaming for the service, which is known as Project Fi.
- Google is charging just $20/month for voice, SMS, Wi-Fi tethering, and international roaming in 120+ countries. Each GB of data (also comes with roaming) costs an extra $10/month; notably, any unused data is refunded. Users automatically connect to more than 1M Wi-Fi hotspots when they're available, and rely on Sprint/T-Mobile's 4G networks when they're not.
- The big catch (also as expected): The service is only available for now via Motorola Mobility's huge Nexus 6 phablet (6" 2K display). iPhone owners and those preferring smaller Android phones are out of luck. That limits the near-term threat posed to U.S. carriers by Fi, which (as the Nexus line does for hardware) aims to showcase Google's vision of what mobile services should be like.
- Also: Much like many Google Web services launching in beta, Fi is launching as an invite-only service. U.S. consumers can request an invite on Google's Fi site.
Tue, Apr. 21, 8:06 PM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is ready to push out its wireless phone service as soon as tomorrow, the WSJ reports, and it's expected to allow customers to pay only for data used.
- That could put pressure on existing providers who have pocketed excess fees spent on data "buckets" that typically waste a reported $28/month per subscriber.
- As previously reported, the service will work only on Google's latest Nexus 6 devices and will use Wi-Fi nets to route calls and data. Wireless service will be via Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) networks, switching between them depending on stronger signal.
- The deal represents a threat to the wireless status quo, even as transit agreements are good for Sprint and T-Mobile. The decision in Sprint's case to go along reportedly went all the way to Chairman Masayoshi Son.
- Previously: WSJ: Google's phone service to initially have just one (giant) phone (Mar. 05 2015)
Fri, Apr. 17, 7:54 PM
- Mobile phone consumers might be happy, but the industry's price war is showing up as average revenue per account is dropping, according to Cowen's quarterly wireless survey.
- Bills fell for a second straight quarter, to an average of $136/month, down from Q4's $141. The biggest drop came to Sprint (NYSE:S), whose "Cut Your Bill in Half" promotion is taking hold by reducing its average bill 14% Q/Q to $132/month.
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is below $150 for the first time in the survey, slipping 5% to $143.
- On the other hand, AT&T (NYSE:T) was essentially flat at $143/month and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) actually increased ARPA 4% to $121.
- Sprint may face a churn problem: 24% of subscribers whose contracts are up in the next six months say they'll leave, above the industry average of 13%.
- Subscribers without contracts are up to 34.5% from Q4's 30.5%, spurred by T-Mobile's huge contract-less base.
Thu, Apr. 16, 10:54 AM
- With the Obama administration relaxing regulations on dealings with Cuba, Boost Mobile -- the unit of Sprint (NYSE:S) -- has launched a prepaid plan for U.S. subscribers to call/text the country.
- The $50/month plan features unlimited texting and per-minute call rates and will roll out in Cuban-American core Miami.
- The phone market in Cuba could turn into the largest in the Caribbean. Only about 2M of the population of 11M have mobile phones; officials say they want to reach 60% access by 2020.
- IDT last month set a deal with Cuba's Etecsa to directly exchange U.S.-Cuba long-distance phone traffic, as the U.S. made telecom a priority in liberalizing relations with Cuba.
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