Tue, Jun. 2, 6:46 PM
- Mogul John Malone floated an interesting idea today: Forget Sprint and T-Mobile -- the wireless industry could get its third major alternative to Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T) with the merger of Charter Communications (CHTR -1.6%) and Time Warner Cable (TWC -0.9%).
- Malone was speaking at his various Liberty companies' annual meetings and noted that in 2012, the cable consortium SpectrumCo got an option to participate in a wireless MVNO service with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) after the wireless firm bought $3.9B in frequencies.
- Charter wasn't in SpectrumCo then, but merger partners TWC and Bright House are. “The concept that Comcast, a greatly enlarged Charter and Cox could together offer a WiFi-optimized connectivity service with a default to a Verizon MVNO is an interesting concept," Malone said.
- He thinks "there's very little dirty underwear" left to be found in a regulatory review of Charter-TWC after the past year's scrutiny.
- Also of interest regarding Charter capex and the dividend: “Everybody's going to say, ‘Oh he’s spending too much capital,’ but I think the end result with be worth it ... To a large degree we’re betting on Tom Rutledge and his team to wake up a sleepy cable company that was treading water in all honesty for a while and trying to satisfy shareholder pressures with buybacks and dividends as opposed to putting the money into having a competitive service offering.”
- Malone company shares today: LMCA -0.1%; LMCB flat; LMCK flat; LTRPA -0.9%; LTRPB +2.2%; QVCA +0.8%; LBRDA +0.1%; OTCQB:LBRDB flat; LBRDK -0.1%.
Thu, May 28, 3:50 PM
- The FCC is close to rejecting T-Mobile's (TMUS -0.9%) push for more spectrum set-asides in next year's government auction -- expected to be the biggest yet -- and siding with market leaders AT&T (T -0.5%) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Reuters reports.
- The agency already has some set-aside planned, but T-Mobile has been aggressively lobbying for more (40 MHz of an expected 70-80 MHz reserved for smaller carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint (S -1.6%), rather than 30 MHz).
- Sources tell Reuters the panel's thinking is that an adequate amount is being set aside, and that frequent swing vote Jessica Rosenworcel looks disinclined to rethink the current plan.
- Previously: Analyst: Risky to bend auction rules too much for Sprint, T-Mobile (May. 14 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile, Sprint gambling on increasing spectrum set-aside (Apr. 09 2015)
Wed, May 27, 11:26 PM
- Speaking at Code Conference, Sprint (NYSE:S) CEO Marcelo Claure had a bold prediction: The carrier will have the best or second-best network in the U.S. in quality terms within the next two years.
- It's an extension of Sprint's recent investments, he said, into a network that has generally lagged in comparisons with its "Big Four" U.S. competitors, particularly on speed.
- Asset investments like network improvement come with heavy cash spending, though, and Sprint will burn billions of dollars in free cash flow this year. Citigroup's Michael Rollins thinks Sprint will run out of money by the 2016 broadcast incentive spectrum auction
- Claure's comments come, however, after recent Tokyo meetings with his bosses at Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBY), suggesting that they'll be behind a quality push.
- Previously: Sprint: Amid network investment, cash burn back in focus (May. 06 2015)
- Previously: Verizon, AT&T top mobile networks, but Sprint and T-Mobile compete in city (Feb. 10 2015)
Tue, May 19, 7:35 PM
- A judge says he won't approve a $50M Sprint (NYSE:S) settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over "cramming" unless he gets more details from both sides showing it's a fair deal.
- District Judge William Pauley didn't say the settlement was unfair, but said the filings were lacking information he needed to determine whether to approve.
- The $50M deal was part of a larger arrangement where Sprint and Verizon were to pay $158M total to customers and federal and state governments to settle charges that they'd unfairly billed consumers with unauthorized fees.
- AT&T and T-Mobile paid $105M and $90M respectively last year in similar investigations.
Tue, May 19, 12:01 PM
- Speaking at the J.P. Morgan conference this morning, Sprint (S -1.1%) CFO Joe Euteneuer said the company's interested in next year's broadcast incentive wireless spectrum auction -- but it doesn't necessarily need to take part.
- That wouldn't have been the case two years, ago, he says, but the company's seeing improvements through its LTE deployments in 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz. By year's end, he says, Sprint expects the 800 MHz network to be largely built out.
- Also, taking advantage of customers' Wi-Fi connections via Wi-Fi calling will augment capacity, he says. Sprint has more than 25 smartphones that allow such calling.
- Meanwhile, he says that the co-branded Sprint-RadioShack stores will be fully stocked and staffed by mid-June -- a quick move since the stores mainly need just the new exterior signage. CEO Marcelo Claure has said that retail channel expansion is important to Sprint's recovery.
- Sprint had previously said the ramp-up would mean 3,500 new jobs to fill the retail presence.
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)
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