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
Tue, Jul. 14, 3:09 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is coming off yesterday's 52-week low, up 8% and back to $4.00, its strongest point of the day. The stock is pacing gainers in telecom.
- The carrier has expanded its house-call "Direct 2 You" service to Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; and Tampa, as well as surrounding areas. So far, so good with a service that must be costly to provide; Sprint says it will keep adding cities throughout the year.
- Meanwhile, its prepaid unit Boost Mobile has rolled out its first Wi-Fi hotspot plans with a $50 Netgear device meant to be paired with no-contract payments of $25/month for 1.5 gigabytes of 4G data, or $50/month for 10 gigabytes.
Fri, Jul. 10, 2:43 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is down 2.2%, and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) up 0.6%, as Stifel Nicolaus launches new coverage on the U.S. wireless sector and rates both stocks at Hold.
- Analyst John Karidis says T-Mobile faces uncertainty in acquiring low-band spectrum (and the company has been vocal about pressing for bigger airwave reserves in the upcoming broadcast incentive auction), and a threat from the bigger carriers pushing for mobile video service.
- In the case of Sprint, though, he lacks confidence the firm can increase its value regardless of its relative spectrum wealth, and that it's "markedly tougher" to forecast free cash flow because of the difficulty of figuring profit and cash timing. He does note minority shareholders "are too battle hardened to give up on the stock at this price."
- Sprint is trading today at $3.82 after hitting a 52-week low of $3.74; T-Mobile is at $39.01, off a 52-week high of $40.77.
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, 7:25 PM
- On a down day for U.S. markets at large and the sector in particular, Sprint (NYSE:S) still led telecom decliners, -8.3% (its biggest one-day drop in eight months) on a day where NYSE trading was interrupted for more than three hours.
- Analyst Craig Moffett thinks the government may take a different stance than it did before on a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) -- if Sprint "really is in severe financial distress, as we think they will be within a relatively short period of time."
- A Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up, though, wouldn't happen until after the next presidential election, if at all, he said.
- Asked about merger talk between T-Mobile and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), meanwhile, Moffett thinks that's "unlikely" and "not about the business synergy between two businesses."
- "Although it was touted as Dish buying T-Mobile, it would really be T-Mobile buying Dish's spectrum through a complicated transaction."
- This spring, Moffett has pointed to cash burn in saying that if T-Mobile goes to another acquirer, "Sprint's in a world of hurt" and running out of good options. "At the current rate of cash burn, the company will run out of cash in a year."
- Previously: T-Mobile and Dish Network: Other options, other suitors (Jun. 12 2015)
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)
Mon, Jul. 6, 2:46 PM
- Network spending at Sprint (S -3.4%) is "slowing down materially," but is expected to ramp up again later this year and beyond as a major new phase of network "densification" begins, Jefferies writes in a new note.
- Sprint's "Next Generation Network" got approval from parent SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) in June, but vendor selection and other details are still ongoing. Analysts see the project leaning heavily on small cells as Sprint seeks a dramatic improvement in speed and performance.
- With the company's overlay work on 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz slowing, "we expect that Sprint's business trends might look slower for the vendors of late," Jefferies says.
- The firm says carriers' network spending overall is a bit slower and it wouldn't be surprised if Q/Q improvement in spending trends tracked below seasonal norms.
- Previously: Report: Sprint CTO resigns in middle of network buildout (Jun. 23 2015)
- Previously: Sprint CEO: We'll have best or second-best network in two years (May. 27 2015)
- Previously: Sprint: Amid network investment, cash burn back in focus (May. 06 2015)
Thu, Jul. 2, 10:49 AM
- Sprint (S -0.4%) CEO Marcelo Claure may have hit his limit with notoriously profane commentary from T-Mobile (TMUS +0.7%) CEO John Legere, as Claure posted from his Twitter account that he is "so tired of your Uncarrier bullshit."
- Claure unleashed a mini-storm of tweets after Legere criticized Sprint's "All-In" simplified pricing model by pointing to a critical Re/code piece.
- "I am so tired of your Uncarrier bullshit when you are worse than the other two carriers together," Claure said over a few tweets. "Your cheap misleading lease imitation is a joke. You trick people to believe that they have a 15 dollar iphone lease payment when it's not true."
- "You tell them they can upgrade up to 3x but you don't tell them the price goes up to 27 dollars when they do. You say one thing but behave completely different. It's all a fake show. So its really #Tmobilelikehell."
Wed, Jul. 1, 3:06 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is ending a policy of slowing video speeds for unlimited data customers, a practice known as throttling, after an outcry over the practice undermined the carrier's attempt to promote a new phone plan and raised concerns due to new net neutrality rules.
- "We heard you loud and clear,” announced Chief Executive Marcelo Claure.
- Meanwhile, a U.S. judge signed off on a $50M settlement between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Sprint over claims the mobile carrier added unauthorized charges to customer phone bills.
Tue, Jun. 30, 11:23 AM
- Cable and wireless firms are on the (legal) clock, as a D.C. appeals court is setting an expedited schedule for them to provide briefs on the set of challenges to FCC net neutrality rules.
- Firms will need to provide their opening briefs (20,000 words or fewer) by July 30, meaning final briefs will be due Oct. 13, and oral argument could begin by year's end.
- The disputes now are largely around Title II reclassification (Internet access as a utility) and interconnection, rather than bans on blocking/throttling or paid prioritization.
- Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
Tue, Jun. 30, 9:48 AM
- U.S. wireless firms are all trading higher out of the open as RBC Capital raises price targets on AT&T (T +0.2%), T-Mobile (TMUS +1.3%) and Sprint (S +1.1%).
- Verizon (VZ +0.2%) is also up comparably with AT&T.
- The firm's best rating of the three goes to T-Mobile, with an Outperform. RBC raised its price target to $41; it's currently trading at $39.17.
- AT&T gets a Sector Perform rating and a raised price target of $37 (currently trading at $35.83), and Sprint gets a Sector Perform and a higher target of $6 (currently at $4.56).
Mon, Jun. 29, 1:04 PM
- Sprint (S -1.2%) is taking its eager-to-please home delivery/customer service offering to more cities as it bids for customers in a tough market.
- Its "Direct 2 You" program, powered by a multi-thousand car fleet, expands today to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, and will be coming to Detroit, Washington, D.C., Tampa and Dallas early next month.
- The service was launched for Sprint customers initially, but is now available for customers who want to switch.
- The company also announced a new family plan offering two lines of unlimited talk/text/data for $100/month, and $40/month additional for up to eight lines.
- Previously: Sprint up premarket; testing home delivery of new phones (Apr. 13 2015)
Fri, Jun. 26, 5:46 PM
- Sprint (S -1.3%) chief Marcelo Claure has become the highest-paid CEO among U.S. telecoms, the Financial Times notes, having earned $22M for just under eight months of work.
- Randall Stephenson of AT&T (NYSE:T) earned $24M last year -- but for a full year's work. Lowell McAdam of Verizon (NYSE:VZ) earned $18M last year, and T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) John Legere $19M.
- For the period between his Aug. 11 start date and March 31, Claure earned a base of $923K, a bonus of $2.4M (including a $500K "golden hello"), and $18M in stock and options. During that time, Sprint's stock price has fallen 16.4%.
- A Sprint spokesman pointed to the difficulty of making apples-to-apples comparisons with other CEOs, considering one-time payments like the signing bonus.
- Sprint's 14A filing
Thu, Jun. 25, 7:04 PM
- While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler signaled today that the agency wouldn't bow to demands for greater spectrum set-asides for competitors to AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), the Justice Dept. sent a letter urging the FCC to think about moves to spread the spectrum, including a greater set-aside.
- William Baer with the DOJ's antitrust division asked the FCC to consider “the well-established competition principle that those with market power may be willing to pay the most to reinforce a leading position.”
- In a low-band "broadcast incentive" auction coming next year, the FCC has proposed setting aside 30 MHz per market for competitors other than the two telecom leaders, like Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS). T-Mobile has been vocal about pushing for a 40 MHz reserve and is hopeful that Baer's letter means it still may happen: “There would be no point in writing the letter if they didn’t want the FCC to take another look," says T-Mobile's Andy Levin.
- More FCC auction coverage
Thu, Jun. 25, 2:35 PM
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that he is circulating a draft with changes to the spectrum bidding procedures ahead of an open meeting designed to "revamp our outdated spectrum auction bidding policies" and help small businesses in the mobile marketplace.
- Notably, he proposes a first-ever cap on total bidding credits, reducing an incentive for large corporations to game the system: "We will not allow small businesses to serve as a stalking horse for another party." (Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) was loudly criticized by rivals after using designated entities to bid for $13.3B in spectrum with a $10B payment; AT&T (NYSE:T) had proposed a much smaller cap of $10M.)
- And he's sticking to the previous 30 MHz set-aside for smaller firms, though key "smaller firms" like Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) had pressed for a larger set-aside of as much as 40 MHz (in T-Mobile's case, with an aggressive media campaign).
- He also recommends dropping a requirement for small businesses to offer facilities-based wireless in order to qualify for bidding credits, and to create a new rural business bidding credit.
- More FCC auction coverage
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