Thu, Sep. 10, 3:20 PM
- Aside from the usual feature hype of Apple's new iPhones, it's the company's new financing plans that throw an interesting wrinkle at service providers, who have usually financed phones -- and some analysts figure T-Mobile (TMUS +0.6%) and Sprint (S -1.2%) have an edge with the new arrangement.
- Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche notes the two have cheaper ways of getting the phone: T-Mobile's monthly offering of $20-$24/month, even with optional insurance of $8/month, still beats Apple's cheapest $32/month by $4. Meanwhile, Sprint's 24-month "iPhone forever" offering is $22/month (or even cheaper, $15/month, for those jumping this year).
- The carriers have more comprehensive insurance as well, since AppleCare doesn't cover lost or stolen phones.
- Switching carriers gets easier with Apple's new approach, to which leaders AT&T (T -0.1%) and Verizon (VZ +0.1%) are most vulnerable, she says. “However, we note that the vast majority (90%+) of T and VZ’s customer base is on corporate or family plans, which tend to be the stickiest customers.”
- Meanwhile, at T-Mobile, John Legere is now pushing a "lifetime coverage guarantee" that offers refunds for device payments for unhappy iPhone 6s and 6s Plus buyers who use the carrier's Jump On Demand device plan, along with getting an unlocked device.
- Previously: Sprint up 3.4% as it introduces plan to upgrade iPhones anytime (Aug. 17 2015)
Wed, Sep. 9, 8:34 PM
- The earnings pick-me-up that AT&T (NYSE:T) gets from accounting for its installment-plan approach to phone buying is waning a bit, Moody's says, as the programs have begun to take hold in the industry.
- Following suit with T-Mobile and the rest of the U.S. wireless industry, AT&T began equipment installment plans in June 2014, and was the first carrier to add debt to cover working capital costs for devices.
- The move meant masking financing investment in reported financials and boosting operating cash flow, Moody's says -- up until more of the subscriber base switches to those plans.
- "As the EIP programs reach saturation, net cash proceeds will decline and could even turn negative," Moody's writes. "This will represent a drag on reported operating cash flow ... at the same time, the EBITDA benefit from EIP accounting for revenue may also begin to reverse."
- Sprint was most recent to depart from contracts, but is shifting to a leased-phone model, while Verizon and AT&T launched EIPs in reaction to T-Mobile.
Fri, Sep. 4, 6:47 PM
- DirecTV (T -1.4%) has settled on a year-old lawsuit against Al Jazeera America over distribution terms -- likely as part of a new carriage agreement with the news channel.
- The satellite company had charged Al Jazeera with violating a "most favored nation" clause by changing to more favorable terms with Time Warner Cable once it bought Current TV and struck a new carriage deal for its new channel.
- “We’re pleased to have settled the MFN violation lawsuit with Al Jazeera America and ensure that our customers receive a fair deal,” DirecTV said. “Al Jazeera America continues to be available on the DirecTV and U-verse platforms.”
Wed, Sep. 2, 11:39 AM
- Needing a good network to pursue further growth in Mexico, but "light-years away from it," Telefonica (TEF -2.2%) says it's open to deals with competitors there, including America Movil (AMX -0.1%) and AT&T (T +0.6%).
- Technical improvements could hinge on a possible deal with America Movil's tower spinoff Telesites, if it makes its infrastructure available. Combined creation of infrastructure is also a possibility.
- AT&T has been working on its deal to rent towers from Telesites, which holds 11,000 towers in the country.
- Telefonica has an "obligation" to explore possible deals, said COO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete. “We still have a lot of work to do in Mexico, but for the first time we have elements” for growth.
- Previously: Telefonica: Brazil recession 'won't change our plans' (Aug. 31 2015)
Wed, Sep. 2, 7:58 AM
- The 11% decline from a late June high provides a near-term value opportunity, say Goldman Sachs, upgrading AT&T (NYSE:T) to Buy.
- The current price doesn't reflect improved dividend coverage with upside potential from DTV merger-related synergies, breathing room in wireless after Verizon backed off some of its aggressive promotions, and too-low consensus EPS estimates for 2016 (h/t Dominic Chu).
- Shares +1.5% premarket
Tue, Sep. 1, 4:52 PM
- AT&T (T -2.6%) files an 8-K saying it's learned of a "mini-tender" offer by TRC Capital Corp., to purchase up to 3M outstanding shares for $31.30/share.
- The company recommends rejection of the unsolicited offer, which is set to expire on Sept. 25. The offer price is below AT&T's current closing price of $32.33.
- AT&T warns that TRC Capital has approached other companies' shareholders with similar "mini-tenders" -- which avoid many SEC requirements by seeking less than 5% of outstanding shares.
Thu, Aug. 27, 5:42 PM
- AT&T's accepted $428M per year of Connect America Funding (Phase II) over six years, with an option on a seventh -- meaning almost $3B in subsidies it could receive to provide rural broadband in underserved areas.
- As with the other recipients of the second tranche of funds, the company's committing to provide 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps up -- in its case, for more than 2.2M people across 18 states.
- AT&T (T +2.2%) declined to take eligible money for Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma.
- Earlier, CenturyLink accepted about $3B in CAF monies, meaning it and AT&T make up the bulk of the $9B made available.
- Meanwhile, AT&T fired back at a Sprint promotion designed to blunt the impact of the DirecTV acquisition and convince DTV subscribers to go yellow with a year's free service: "This ranks right up there with a desperate Hail Mary pass to a petite defensive lineman," said an AT&T spokesperson. "With Sprint's network and the many asterisks on this deal, we're feeling good about our offers."
Thu, Aug. 27, 3:11 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is giving up some of today's gains, now +3.3%, after news of its latest promotion: "Celebrating" the merger of AT&T (NYSE:T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) by offering a year of free phone service to DTV customers who switch.
- The deal will be offered starting tomorrow through September's end. DirecTV customers who switch to Sprint -- or some existing customers adding lines or phones -- will get 12 months unlimited talk/text and 2 GB of data per line, up to five lines.
- The existing customers would need to add a new line through Sprint Lease, iPhone Forever, Sprint Easy Pay or pay full retail price for a new smartphone.
- Customers would be migrated to the comparable paid plan after the year was up.
- Updated: "This ranks right up there with a desperate Hail Mary pass to a petite defensive lineman," said an AT&T spokesperson (in a Super Bowl allusion?). "With Sprint's network and the many asterisks on this deal, we're feeling good about our offers."
Tue, Aug. 25, 12:49 PM
- AT&T (T +0.9%) is beginning the long process of rebranding services from the two Mexican wireless firms it bought.
- The company's Mexico CEO Thaddeus Arroyo says the refiguring -- of brands previously belonging to Grupo Iusacell and Nextel Mexico -- will begin by the end of this year and take all of 2016 to complete.
- The moves are part of AT&T's longer-term strategy to end up with a North American service area -- which has rivals moving to offer their own "borderless" promotions and plans.
- AT&T's moves into Mexico were spurred by the country's government, which acted to favor challenges to dominant America Movil (AMX +2.7%), and Arroyo stuck up for the regulations that the lead carrier was facing: “Things haven’t changed a lot. We are here to change it. We have less than 9% of the market, 68% of the market is still totally in one company. So the asymmetric rules are necessary.”
Mon, Aug. 24, 4:01 PM
- Cricket Wireless (T -2.9%) has the latest move in international roaming one-upsmanship, offering calling from the U.S. to nine new countries in the Americas.
- Primary usage of the phone must be in the U.S., but customers can add $10-$15/month to add minutes to the country of their choice among the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Jamaica, Haiti, or Nicaragua.
- The move follows Cricket's earlier step offering unlimited talk and text between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Mon, Aug. 24, 11:38 AM
- BT Group's (BT -4%) Americas president has charged Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) with hurting competitors by abusing landline monopolies, and called for tough regulations to force access to the networks.
- The UK telecom serves hundreds of customers in the U.S. but pays to reach the "special access network" -- the portion that goes the last mile into homes and offices -- of which Verizon and AT&T control about 80%.
- The FCC requested data from telecoms on the special access networks last year. BT's Bas Burger points to research suggesting the top two U.S. telecoms are overcharging for that access by about $9B/year.
- Burger is calling for regulated prices there. “For a western world country it is the worst I’ve seen."
- “There is not sufficient regulation to create competition," he says; "almost all access is being provided by two companies and they have divided the country among themselves.”
Thu, Aug. 20, 7:29 PM
- At least one end result of media consolidation will be all of the big four wireless firms linking up (via merger or alliances) with pay TV, says Oppenheimer's Tim Horan, with a prediction for the four survivors: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- and Comcast.
- "Regardless of the timing, we expect all four wireless carriers to align with a paid TV provider in some form," Horan says. He writes that Oppenheimer sees Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) aligning somehow, though Comcast denied interest in outright acquiring the carrier in June.
- Comcast's hand might be forced by AT&T's (NYSE:T) plans for product bundling now that it's closed on DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV). Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) -- currently busy trying to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- could deal for wireless as well, as it expands its public Wi-Fi.
- Horan also thinks that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) might be the only real buyer for Dish Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) spectrum haul, which might come on the block after the FCC denied Dish $3.3B in spectrum-auction discounts. Oppenheimer sees only a 10% chance that Dish buys T-Mobile.
- SoftBank had explored a sale of Sprint (NYSE:S) to TV providers including Comcast and Altice, unsuccessfully, and a potential merger with T-Mobile is considered at least as far off as the 2016 presidential election.
Thu, Aug. 20, 5:36 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) has filed an 8-K saying they've entered into a tax equalization agreement with John Stankey, connected with his new post-DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) buyout role of CEO of AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services, and noted the retirement of Wayne Watts, the company's senior executive VP and general counsel.
- Stankey lives and works in Texas, which has no income tax -- but as part of extensive travel, Stankey will be reimbursed for taxes incurred while outside of Texas.
- David McAtee will replace Watts as general counsel effective Oct. 1.
- Shares in AT&T fell 1.2% as the broader market declined today; for 2015 so far, they are up 1.1%.
Wed, Aug. 19, 7:09 PM
- DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- now part of AT&T (NYSE:T) -- has moved the bar slightly for Ultra HD TV viewing, though there are still several hurdles involved with getting and viewing the best picture available.
- Last year, DirecTV was the first to roll out 4K video service, but on a limited basis -- customers had to have a specific Samsung 4K TV and one of DirecTV's Genie HD DVRs, and had a library of on-demand titles to choose from.
- DirecTV is rolling out a new 4K Genie Mini set-top, which frees up the Samsung TV requirement. But viewers will still need the new set-top, the Genie HD DVR and some manufacturer's 4K-compliant television.
- That leaves a relative lack of content. Providers have been slow to commit, though Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) also offers 4K service (also an on-demand library) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) plans to introduce an offering this summer. In the UK, BT Group (NYSE:BT) has launched an Ultra HD channel with live sports broadcasts just this month.
- Press release
Tue, Aug. 18, 7:54 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) led in overall network performance rankings again, according to the first-half report by analytics firm RootMetrics, though Sprint's network investments may be paying off.
- Across the board, the results were similar to the last few analyses by the firm. In nationwide performance tests, Verizon took five wins to AT&T's (NYSE:T) one. In state-by-state looks, Verizon grabbed 253 wins/ties, to AT&T's 95. Sprint (NYSE:S) took 25 and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) zero.
- Metro areas show more variation, but Verizon prevailed overall there too, with 512 wins/ties. AT&T logged 441, T-Mobile 221, and Sprint 180.
- The tests resulted in a RootScore of 94.5 for Verizon, followed by AT&T's 91.8. Sprint finished third with 87.5, and T-Mobile brought up the rear there, with 82. In the first half of 2014, T-Mobile was third in those rankings to Sprint's fourth place.
Mon, Aug. 17, 4:53 PM
- Another brick falls from the contract-wireless wall, as Sprint (S +10.1%) CEO Marcelo Claure tells The Wall Street Journal that the carrier will do away with contracts and shift to a leased-smartphone model by year's end.
- Sprint introduced a lease option last year, and ending its subsidies means that leasing or upfront purchase will be the only ways to get a smartphone from the carrier.
- The move leaves AT&T (T +0.5%) as the only carrier of the U.S. big four that is still offering to subsidize a smartphone buy. Verizon (VZ +0.1%) made its major move earlier this month, and all are following in T-Mobile's (TMUS +1.9%) footsteps on dropping contracts.
- Earlier, Sprint rolled out its "iPhone Forever" plan that served as a precursor to the model: For $22/month over and above the usual monthly fees, customers can upgrade to the latest iPhone as soon as it becomes available, rather than once every two years. Claure says parent SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY -1%) will help it monetize traded-in phones.
AT&T Inc, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States and internationally. The Company has three reportable segments: Wireless, Wireline, and Other.
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