Thu, Jul. 23, 5:33 PM
- On AT&T's (NYSE:T) Q2 earnings call, CFO John Stephens steadfastly refused to take questions about the company's deal to acquire DirecTV -- an order is circulating at the FCC to finally approve the $49B deal -- but he did weigh in with a brief statement regarding the reported conditions it's taking on.
- "We feel very confident that we can make adequate return on any investment we make as part of this deal," Stephens said. "We also expect $2.5B of cost synergies from this transaction -- that also has not changed."
- FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly says he voted in favor of the deal this afternoon -- meaning that with Chairman Tom Wheeler's declared support, the deal's one vote away from approval.
- When it comes to the FCC's broadcast incentive auction set for early 2016, "We'll be interested and prudent in investigating the opportunities," but Stephens says the company is putting spectrum to use rather than building out towers.
- After hours, AT&T is now up 2%.
- Previously: AT&T up 1.8% after solid earnings beat (Jul. 23 2015)
- Previously: FCC chairman lays out conditions for AT&T/DirecTV approval order (Jul. 21 2015)
Thu, Jul. 23, 4:25 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is up 1.8% after hours, following a solid Q2 beat on profit and expanding margins as well as healthy cash flow. Revenues that rose 1.4% Y/Y were up 2.2% if adjusting for the sale of its Connecticut wireline properties.
- Revenue breakout: Service, $29.5B (down 0.1%); Equipment, $3.47B (up 15.1%). By segment: Wireless, $18.3B (up 2.1%); Wireline, $14.2B (down 2.9%).
- Wireless had 2.1M net adds (410K postpaid, 331K prepaid and 1M connected cars). Total churn was 1.31% and postpaid churn just 1.01%. Phone-only postpaid ARPU increased 6.1% Y/Y. The wireless operating margin was 25.6%.
- Wireline voice connections dropped by 652K (a 14% Y/Y improvement); total wireline broadband connections dropped by 136K and U-verse video connections fell by 22K.
- Cash from operations of $9.2B resulted in free cash flow of $4.5B.
- Conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET.
- Press release
Thu, Jul. 23, 4:05 PM
Tue, Jul. 21, 6:50 PM
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirms that an order has been circulated to agency commissioners recommending approval of AT&T's $49B purchase of DirecTV, with conditions.
- If approved by the FCC, "2.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection," Wheeler writes. "This additional build-out is about 10 times the size of AT&T’s current fiber-to-the-premise deployment, increases the entire nation’s residential fiber build by more than 40 percent, and more than triples the number of metropolitan areas AT&T has announced plans to serve."
- Two other key points: AT&T won't be able to exclude its affiliate video services from broadband data caps (which would give its own products a toll-free leg up), and will have to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the FCC, along with network performance reports.
- Updated 7:05 p.m.: "We are pleased the Department of Justice has completed its review of our acquisition of DirecTV," says AT&T in its statement. "We look forward to gaining the approval of the Federal Communications Commission so we can quickly begin providing consumers with the benefits of this combination."
- After hours: DTV +1.1%; T +0.1%.
- Previously: WSJ: FCC ready to OK $49B AT&T/DirecTV deal (Jul. 21 2015)
Tue, Jul. 21, 4:53 PM
- The FCC is ready to approve AT&T's (NYSE:T) $49B deal for DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
- Agency Chairman Tom Wheeler is about to circulate the order for approval to the other commissioners, sources told the WSJ.
- Approval would bring an end to a year-plus long process and set up the biggest media acquisition of the past year. The FCC's OK is the last hurdle, as the Justice Department has already cleared the deal.
- Still unknown is what conditions AT&T may have agreed to; various sources have AT&T agreeing to various net neutrality rules regardless of pending litigation over the regulations.
- In after-hours trade, AT&T is currently -0.3%; DTV +0.3%.
Mon, Jul. 20, 3:25 PM
- The FCC is pointing to March 29 -- very late in Chairman Tom Wheeler's Q1 2016 target -- to begin its incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast airwaves, according to a list of agenda items it's circulating.
- Observers had worried that a postponement of voting on auction rules until Aug. 6 would endanger the Q1 plan. The FCC had delayed the final vote so that stakeholders could submit filings on the rules, with the "duplex gap" a particular point of contention.
- The exact start date is still subject to change before the final FCC vote.
- Spectrum players: VZ, T, TMUS, S, DISH, SBGI, EVC
- Previously: FCC delays rules vote for broadcast spectrum auction (Jul. 15 2015)
Fri, Jul. 17, 3:38 PM
- AT&T (T -0.4%) opens a new front next week in its gigabit offerings with a move into the high-tech hub of Durham, N.C.
- The move is a departure for AT&T as it doesn't operate wired services there, meaning a fiber network basically built from scratch. A university-driven Next Generation Network initiative does operate in parts of other cities in the Research Triangle area, including Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
- Frontier (FTR +3.8%) began connecting Durham customers to fiber last year, and Google has signaled its own Fiber rollout there as well.
Thu, Jul. 16, 5:17 PM
- The battle to provide a unified North American calling zone continues, as America Movil (AMX +0.6%) launches a plan to let postpaid Telcel customers call the U.S. without roaming charges.
- The plan, released ahead of the company's Q2 results, includes voice, text and data in the U.S., for an additional 50 pesos/month (about $3.16). The company is considering adding Canada to that plan as well.
- Following AT&T's (NYSE:T) move to offer World Connect users unlimited calls from U.S. to Mexico, T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) said it would give Simple Choice customers coverage/calling in Mexico and Canada for free (and then followed up in prepaid style with a MetroPCS plan for free calling/coverage in Mexico).
- At an event today where he announced the new plan, CEO Daniel Hajj said the company planned to invest $6B in its network in Mexico over the next three years.
- Previously: MetroPCS promos free Mexico calling/roaming plan (Jul. 15 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile: 2.1M customers added last quarter (Jul. 09 2015)
Wed, Jul. 15, 8:44 PM
- Cricket Wireless (NYSE:T) looks ready to launch a mobile hotspot product, for $10/month added on to plans that cost $50 and up, according to a page on its site seen by FierceWireless.
- Cricket currently prohibits tethering in its terms of service. It offers four main service plans ranging from $25 to $60 per month, with the top plan featuring 10 GB of LTE data.
- A Cricket move in this area would follow Boost Mobile's launch yesterday of its first hotspot plans. The Sprint (NYSE:S) unit is pairing a $50 device with no-contract payments of $25/month (1.5 GB of 4G data) or $50/month (10 GB). Meanwhile, Sprint's Virgin Mobile USA charges $3/day for tethering 500 MB of combined 3G/4G access.
- Previously: Sprint bounces, +8% today off 52-week lows (Jul. 14 2015)
Wed, Jul. 15, 5:38 PM
- Under congressional pressure, the FCC is delaying tomorrow's vote on rules -- including the contentious issue of set-asides -- for the upcoming broadcast incentive spectrum auction until Aug. 6.
- "I believe that even with this delay we will be able to stay on course for the first quarter of 2016," Chairman Tom Wheeler says about the pushback.
- A few House Republicans pressed for a delay after a late-Friday release of data covering potential outcomes around repacking the "duplex gap" -- an about-to-be-crowded frequency band that FCC staff chose last year to dedicate to Wi-Fi and unlicensed uses as well as licensed broadcast news mics, but recently reversed position on.
- The delay seems to have made no stakeholder very happy. The move also means that settling the issue of reserve spectrum (Smaller carriers than AT&T and Verizon have urged a bigger reserve than the current 30 MHz planned).
- Spectrum players: VZ, T, TMUS, S, DISH
Fri, Jul. 10, 4:08 PM
- If AT&T (NYSE:T) is allowed to raise rates for last-mile services -- wholesale, special access rates -- then small and midsized business could be hurt, Windstream (NASDAQ:WIN) is telling the FCC.
- Windstream has built its own big fiber network, but is dependent on renting "last mile" copper services from carriers like AT&T in many cases.
- "Business consumers -- including the small- and medium-sized businesses that drive economic growth and job creation, state and local governments, schools and non-profit health care providers -- will be hurt significantly if the IP transition deprives them of their choice of integrated communications solutions because the large incumbent LECs can raise prices for critical last-mile transmission," Windstream said in its filing.
- Windstream's arguing for continued access to certain loops after an incumbent local exchange carrier makes such a transition.
- Windstream stock is up 3.3% today, rebounding from a 52-week low hit in the closing minutes yesterday.
Thu, Jul. 9, 9:40 AM
- T-Mobile (TMUS +2.6%) says it gained 2.1M customers last quarter as it pushes to overtake Sprint (NYSE:S) as the country's third-largest wireless carrier.
- The adds brought T-Mobile to 58.9M users. Early figures suggest that branded new monthly phone users were 760K.
- The carrier also said it was adding Canada and Mexico to its roaming plan, calling its Simple Choice the "first and only wireless plan to span an entire continent" -- a tweak at AT&T (T +0.5%) and its ambitions for a U.S.-Mexico zone.
- Previously: Sprint's Claure to T-Mobile's Legere: Tired of 'Uncarrier bullshit' (Jul. 02 2015)
Wed, Jul. 8, 10:36 AM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is adding its first streaming radio application to U-verse TV, via a deal wtih iHeartMedia (OTCPK:IHRT).
- The two launched iHeartRadio, allowing subscribers to search stations on a number of criteria -- including live radio stations from around the country.
- They plan to add features like a Pandora-like custom station creation to the app later this year, drawing on a 20M-song library (iHeartMedia is the holding company for the former Clear Channel Communications) and such criteria as mood indicators as well as thousands of podcasts.
- It's another interactive app for U-verse TV, which now has more than 30 offered.
Tue, Jul. 7, 9:34 PM
- Next week, the FCC is looking to keep a landmark broadcast incentive wireless spectrum auction on track for early next year despite contentious debates from stakeholders -- and if it does, it's a boon for T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), says Guggenheim's Paul Gallant.
- That's because though T-Mobile and Sprint (NYSE:S) have pushed for a bigger reserve of spectrum for "smaller carriers" (i.e.: them), a delay might mean that the current 30 MHz set-aside was at risk.
- Meanwhile, the airwaves will be coming from TV broadcasters who must go along with any plan -- meaning they expect to see prices they like. A group representing smaller broadcasters say if the framework isn't revised, opening prices for broadcasters could be reduced by $8M.
- Major broadcasters (ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), FOX) aren't expected to be key airwaves sellers, while smaller groups like Sinclair (NASDAQ:SBGI) and Entravision (NYSE:EVC) are expected to sell.
- Related firms: T, VZ
- Previously: FCC chairman: Cap bid credits, keep smaller spectrum set-aside (Jun. 25 2015)
Tue, Jul. 7, 8:20 PM
- As a sweetener for approval of its takeover of DirecTV (DTV +0.3%), AT&T (T +0.5%) has agreed to offer a low-priced Internet option for four years to food stamp recipients -- an alternative that the FCC showed a desire for in a letter to the company last week.
- Users would get up to 5 Mbps for $10/month for the first year, or in slower-speed areas, 1.5 Mbps for $5/month. The costs would go up to $20 and $10 respectively after the year is up. But the customers must not only be on food stamps -- they cannot be current or recent AT&T wireline broadband customers, or be in collection action with AT&T.
- The telco is eagerly awaiting the result of a regulatory review that has been going on for months.
- Previously: AT&T gains as analysts get bullish on DirecTV strategy (Jul. 02 2015)
- Previously: AT&T-DirecTV merger approval expected next week (Jul. 01 2015)
Tue, Jul. 7, 6:45 PM
- A big fiber buildout from AT&T (T +0.5%) is likely to hurt big cable, including Comcast (CMCSA +0.6%), Charter (CHTR +0.5%), Time Warner Cable (TWC +0.7%) and Cablevision (CVC +1%), analyst Craig Moffett says, and it's reminiscent of the mid-2000s.
- Documents from AT&T show that after wrapping its DirecTV merger, it plans to run fiber past the equivalent of 11.7M homes, he notes. The catch is exactly where that fiber runs, and how much that overlaps the cablecos' footprints.
- Cable analysts, he says, will have to "adjust their models to reduce both growth and pricing power assumptions.”
- Moffett estimates that Comcast may have the biggest change in overlap, to 22% from 18%. For Charter, it would go to 12% from 7%. And a Charter-Time Warner Cable combination would go from a 17% overlap to 21%.
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.
Other News & PR