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Sep. 8, 2015, 9:49 AM
- Verizon (VZ +2%), a pioneer in the spread of 4G wireless networks, has set an initial roadmap for a rollout of 5G technology and says it will start field trials in 2016.
- That should bring some quickness to adoption of a service that was expected to be widely available in the U.S. after 2020 and would bring data speeds 30-50 times faster than 4G/LTE, comparable to gigabit broadband..
- The carrier says the field tests would mean "some level of commercial deployment" by 2017, which could spur competitors to raise their own plans.
- "5G is no longer a dream of the distant future," says Roger Gurnani, Verizon's chief information and technology architect.
- The company has spectrum it needs for field tests but will need more airwaves space to go beyond that.
Sep. 3, 2015, 12:43 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) declares $0.565/share quarterly dividend, 2.7% increase from prior dividend of $0.55.
- Forward yield 4.92%
- Payable Nov. 2; for shareholders of record Oct. 9; ex-div Oct. 7.
Sep. 3, 2015, 9:15 AM
- Less than two months after TechCrunch reported a deal could happen, Verizon-owned (NYSE:VZ) AOL has announced it's acquiring mobile ad network owner Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) for $1.75/share, or $248M. The price represents a 30.6% premium to Millennial's Wednesday close, but is still well below a 52-week high of $2.40, and over 90% below Millennial's 2012 highs.
- The deal expands AOL's supply-side (publisher-facing) mobile ad footprint, including within international markets. Millennial claims over 65K apps are on its platform, and that it has over 800M "proprietary, anonymous user profiles" for ad targeting. It follows AOL's display ad deal with Microsoft, and comes ahead of the launch of Verizon's Go90 mobile video service.
- For Millennial, the deal provides an exit for a company that has been losing mobile ad share to the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter. It's expected to close this fall.
- MM +30% to $1.74.
Sep. 2, 2015, 6:05 PM
- The FCC has approved Frontier Communications' (FTR +3%) $10.54B purchase of wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas from Verizon (VZ +1.1%).
- The deal, which Verizon undertook in the wake of its $10.4B in bids in the AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, had previously received approval from the Dept. of Justice.
- It still needs approval from public utilities commissions in California and Texas, though the key hurdles are behind it. The companies expect to close the transaction at the end of Q1 2016.
- Frontier focused on the broadband offerings it could bring: "By doubling our size, we will add scale and scope to our operations, strengthen our product and service offerings, and improve the customer experience," said Frontier CEO Daniel McCarthy. "Our goal is to deliver the life-changing benefits of broadband to an additional 750,000 households at speeds of 25Mbps/2-3Mbps across the entire Frontier multi-state footprint, including California, Florida and Texas, by the end of 2020."
Sep. 2, 2015, 3:42 PM
- After CBS announced its ramp-up of NFL streaming to a new high level, Verizon (VZ +0.5%) announces that all of its plans will include live streaming of NFL games.
- Via NFL Mobile, the carrier will stream Sunday local games along with Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football contests, including streaming access to NFL Network.
- It's available for no cost, though data usage applies.
- Meanwhile, Go90, the carrier's over-the-top video service promised for a late-summer launch, is expected in "coming days." The service is expected to feature content from partners including Discovery Communications, Vice Media, Scripps Networks Interactive, ESPN, CBS Sports, AwesomenessTV and AOL among others.
- Previously: CBS plans record NFL streaming broadcasts, including Super Bowl (Sep. 01 2015)
Aug. 28, 2015, 8:03 PM
- New York City officials are considering a lawsuit against Verizon (NYSE:VZ) in an ongoing battle over the buildout obligations set in the company's 2008 FiOS franchise deal.
- "If that's what we have to do, then that's what we'll do," said Maya Wiley, chief lawyer for Mayor Bill de Blasio, noting they're working with Verizon and would like to avoid litigation.
- Verizon has pointed to landlords' restrictions as a headwind in building fiber-to-the-home service in more areas of New York City.
- A June audit by the City found Verizon failed to deliver on a promise to get fiber-topic service to anyone who wants it by 2014.
Aug. 24, 2015, 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.”
Aug. 20, 2015, 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.
Aug. 18, 2015, 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.
Aug. 17, 2015, 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.
Aug. 11, 2015, 6:12 PM
- In an ongoing tussle over advertising claims, a U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Cablevision (CVC -3.7%) to stop running ads accusing Verizon (VZ +0.8%) of lying about having the fastest Wi-Fi network.
- Judge Gary Brown issued a temporary restraining order requiring Cablevision to pull ads accusing Verizon of dishonesty by Friday. The ruling comes days after he ruled against Cablevision's bid to block Verizon's ads claiming the "fastest Wi-Fi available."
- Cablevision ads invoking Pinocchio, or Verizon reps with their "pants on fire," were "literally untrue and implicitly false" and likely to mislead consumers, Brown said. His ruling did reject Verizon's attempts to block other Cablevision ads.
- Cablevision's Lisa Anselmo said the company would keep challenging Verizon claims "not only through the legal system but also in the court of public opinion."
- In January, Cablevision said Verizon's ads were an attempt to hurt its launch of Wi-Fi voice/text/data service Freewheel.
- Previously: Cablevision: We haven't dropped suit against Verizon (Jun. 18 2015)
- Previously: Cablevision sues Verizon over false WiFi advertising (Jan. 30 2015)
Aug. 11, 2015, 3:39 PM
- Verizon (VZ +0.9%) has "reasons for optimism," says analyst Craig Moffett as he upgrades the stock to Buy on valuation amid a possible calming of the price war.
- He's set a price target of $54; Verizon shares closed yesterday at $47.23 and are trading now at $47.64, implying more than a 13% upside.
- Verizon has dropped its strategy of subsidizing phones -- for which it was a holdout -- with a revised set of contract-free price plans.
- The company's Q2 results hinted at stabilizing wireless ARPU, Moffett says, and "Recent market activity — which includes Sprint's and T-Mobile's effective price increase by reducing the amount of data offered at the $100 price point, and AT&T's decision to add an activation fee to (installment plans) — further our conviction that we are reaching at least a pause in aggressive discounting in U.S. wireless."
- Despite the fact that investor sentiment has shifted to AT&T (NYSE:T) from Verizon ("AT&T has DirecTV merger synergies to talk about, Verizon doesn't"), he says Verizon has more to gain from pricing firming up.
- Meanwhile, Verizon says it has successfully field-tested a new fiber-to-the-premises optical technology that could someday promise 10 Gbps speeds by using different wavelengths of light.
Aug. 10, 2015, 8:08 PM
- With an expired contract, 28,000 Southeast union employees for AT&T (T +1.6%) are still on the job and continuing to work toward an agreement.
- As with thousands of counterparts working at Verizon (VZ +1.9%), the CWA has authorized a strike against AT&T if necessary, with 96% approving the measure. “We’re going to keep our fight for a fair contract going while we stay on the job,” says a union rep.
- The negotiations cover AT&T Southeast workers as well as employees of AT&T Utility Operations and BellSouth Billing.
- Verizon says it's trained thousands of nonunion workers in case of a strike by 38,000 of its employees who are still on the job following the Aug. 1 expiration of their own contract.
Aug. 7, 2015, 3:27 PM
- In an "un-carrier" sort of move, Verizon (VZ -0.5%) is doing away with phone subsidies, rolling out a new set of price plans of various data-bundle sizes (like clothing: small, medium, large and XL), and simplifying plan variables by requiring customers to pay for their phone at once or through it installment plan.
- The company -- a holdout for traditional phone subsidies -- seems to be putting an end to contracts, at least for new customers. New plans go into effect next Thursday.
- Verizon's new data buckets range form $30/month for 1 GB of shareable data ("small") to $80/month for 12 GB of shareable data ("XL"). Line access charges will be $20 per smartphone ($10 for tablet/Jetpack), and then a device payment adds to that. Customers can change between plans each month.
- The move is a big change for Verizon, but less so for the industry at large, where T-Mobile and AT&T already have most of their postpaid base off of phone subsidies -- while Verizon still had less than 50% of its sales taking advantage of its Edge device installment plan.
- The company is reportedly offering bigger plans than its 12-GB XL, but won't promote them and they may not be available outside a Verizon store.
- The change is likely to please most customers, but some family plans calculate out to a $5 higher device fee under the new setup than before. Verizon also killed its lowest-end 500 MB $20 plan.
Aug. 6, 2015, 12:07 PM
- In a unanimous vote, the FCC denied T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) request for a larger spectrum set-aside during the government's wireless airwaves auction next year.
- The carrier -- now the third-largest by customers in the U.S. -- had lobbied for a larger chunk of spectrum to be set aside for smaller carriers (i.e., not AT&T and Verizon) in the low-band auction, an area of the spectrum that the two giants dominate.
- There will be a set-aside, just not the 40 MHz that T-Mobile was seeking, in what is seen as a compromise by the FCC's Democrats after last year's vote to establish reserve spectrum.
- The FCC is working to keep the auction on track for the first quarter, and it's currently expected March 29. The agency is finalizing bidding procedures.
- Wireless Carriers today: T -1.3%; VZ -0.5%; TMUS -0.5%; S +2.4%.
Aug. 5, 2015, 10:01 PM
- AOL (NYSE:VZ) has shuffled its leadership, promoting Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann into a spot with oversight of its consumer brands as well as Verizon's upcoming Go90 streaming video service.
- AOL chief Tim Armstrong says Arianna Huffington is leading the search for a new HuffPo CEO.
- The shuffle will mean AOL is reorganized into three businesses: consumer brands (Maymann's area), business-to-business platforms (ad tech), led by AOL President Bob Lord, and the new "Area 51" unit focused on strategic investment, led by CTO Bill Pence.
- Armstrong had no comment about a possible $300M deal for Millennial Media (NYSE:MM), but said: “We have a goal of becoming the largest mobile media platform whether that’s through investments or M&A. If you look at how aggressive we’ve been in the last 12 months ... you should assume we are serious. We are a company on the move right now.”
Verizon Communications Inc is a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. Its two segments are Wireless and Wireline.
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