Fri, Apr. 17, 7:54 PM
- Mobile phone consumers might be happy, but the industry's price war is showing up as average revenue per account is dropping, according to Cowen's quarterly wireless survey.
- Bills fell for a second straight quarter, to an average of $136/month, down from Q4's $141. The biggest drop came to Sprint (NYSE:S), whose "Cut Your Bill in Half" promotion is taking hold by reducing its average bill 14% Q/Q to $132/month.
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is below $150 for the first time in the survey, slipping 5% to $143.
- On the other hand, AT&T (NYSE:T) was essentially flat at $143/month and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) actually increased ARPA 4% to $121.
- Sprint may face a churn problem: 24% of subscribers whose contracts are up in the next six months say they'll leave, above the industry average of 13%.
- Subscribers without contracts are up to 34.5% from Q4's 30.5%, spurred by T-Mobile's huge contract-less base.
Fri, Apr. 17, 3:40 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is a dividend stalwart, yielding 5.7%, but Morningstar DividendInvestor Editor Josh Peters dropped it from his model portfolio in favor of lower-yielding Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
- He's willing to swap for Verizon's 4.5% yield because the "quality, the safety of the dividend, and the growth of the dividend and the total return it will drive are superior."
- He lost some patience with AT&T's wandering outside of core business rather than sticking to its knitting and growing the dividend faster than 2%. Verizon is focused on U.S. wireless with better capital allocation, he says.
- Coverage plays a part as well: "Verizon is covering its dividend 1.5 times with free cash flow. AT&T is just barely covering its dividend now with free cash."
- Josh Peters video interview
Tue, Apr. 14, 7:17 PM
- With the FCC's new net neutrality rules published in the Federal Register, AT&T (NYSE:T) and three industry trade groups representing cablecos and wireless carriers have filed separate lawsuits challenging the rules, which subject firms to heavier "telecom services" regulations.
- AT&T is the first large individual challenger, joined by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, wireless group CTIA and the smaller American Cable Association. The NCTA has hired former solicitor General Ted Olson, who argued Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court.
- Publication in the Federal Register means the rules take effect 60 days from yesterday -- which is why affected companies had their briefs warmed up.
- Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
Mon, Apr. 13, 8:12 PM
- Atlanta's becoming a new staging ground for high-speed Internet, as AT&T (NYSE:T) has launched its 1-Gbps GigaPower service there, joining Comcast and Google in a crowded space.
- Comcast recently announced it was launching 2-Gbps service in the city, and that's due to happen next month. In January, Google announced plans to bring its 1-Gbps Fiber service to Atlanta, but construction is likely sometime in the future.
- AT&T said it has invested about $2.8 million in its networks in Atlanta between 2012 and 2014. The company sells GigaPower service in eight other markets and plans several more.
Fri, Apr. 10, 8:32 AM
- AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) have received the AWS-3 wireless spectrum licenses that they bid for in a record FCC auction, but -- with a complicated application that involved its use of designated entities as bidders -- Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) has not, yet.
- Dish spent the second-most in the auction ($13.3B gross bids, to AT&T's $18.2B), but its use of three DEs was criticized by competitors and Republican FCC commissioners alike, and it was missing from the agency's new list of 11 of 31 bidders whose bids were found to be complete and paid in full.
- Still, given time, Dish is expected to ultimately get confirmed for its spectrum, as challenges to its approach haven't found traction -- at least this year. The FCC is reviewing its rules for DE bidding in advance of 2016's low-band spectrum auction.
- "We ... still don't believe any restrictive or punitive action can take place on Dish's designated entities as a result of the AWS-3 auction," says Walter Piecyk of BTIG.
- Previous FCC auction news
Thu, Apr. 9, 10:00 PM
- In a new report on fiber, DSL and cable broadband subscribers, Infonetics Research projects that consumers are driving global fixed broadband adoption toward a 5% compound annual growth rate through 2019, from a current base of 733M (up 8% last year).
- Global growth will lead the way, the firm says, especially in China (Asia Pacific has 50% of the world's fixed broadband subscribers, and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) is the worldwide share leader) -- as well as Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Arrgentina, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Other insights: DSL's still the biggest technology, but growth is coming via fiber-to-the-home and DOCSIS 3.0 cable; and FTTH subscribers grew 22% last year to cross the 100M-subscriber line.
- U.S.-traded players in the firm's report: T, BT, CHA, CHU, CHT, CMCSA, OTCQX:DTEGY, OTCPK:KDDIY, KT, NTT, ORAN, OTCQX:ROSYY, TI, TEF, OTCPK:TELNY, OTCPK:TLSNY, OTC:TMXLF, OTCPK:TLSYY, TWC, OTC:TRKNY, VZ, VIP, VOD
Thu, Apr. 9, 9:08 PM
- Don't let recent merger challenges and failures fool you, Michael Wolff argues: "M&A mania" is coming to a media conglomerate near you amid pressure for a new wave of consolidation.
- "Perhaps never before has consolidation been so much the flavor of the month, nor has it seemed so difficult to get a taste," he writes. "The table is set, but nobody's sitting down to eat."
- If Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fails in its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), he notes, it just means other cablers will step up to match Comcast's ambition, and Comcast will still look for a way to stay dominant.
- He points to a number of mergers he thinks are easily imaginable: Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) and FOX? Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)? TWC and Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR)? Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and, well, most anyone (Disney, Fox, CBS)?
- Factors encouraging the wave: Media's all about video now, and the pure-play aspect makes merger logic cleaner; distribution and content are separate and now even antagonistic businesses; the growth of over-the-top means not unbundling but re-bundling; and everyone needs scale for negotiation strength in content and ad deals.
- Other key players: John Malone (LMCA, LBTYA, STRZA); Verizon (NYSE:VZ); Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF); Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI); Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and AT&T (NYSE:T); Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
Wed, Apr. 8, 3:38 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) will pay $25M to settle with the FCC over an alleged privacy breach at three of its international call centers -- the FCC's largest ever enforcement action.
- The agency started investigating a 168-day data breach last May. The FCC alleged that three employees at a call center in Mexico got paid by third parties to provide customer information.
- AT&T told the FCC it also had data breaches in Colombia and the Philippines, involving 40 employees and affecting some 211K customer accounts.
- Along with the fine, AT&T is paying for credit monitoring services for affected accounts and is changing policies to strengthen its security.
Tue, Apr. 7, 11:49 AM
- As expected, AT&T's (NYSE:T) $49B purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) is headed for an easier approval than Comcast's takeover of Time Warner Cable -- and the AT&T deal may wrap before April is through, with a few "action packed" weeks ahead, says Morgan Stanley's Simon Flannery.
- Flannery sees limited opposition to the deal, though he does warn about risks including AT&T's leverage in the deal and its recent $18B purchase of wireless spectrum.
- But the purchase may have taken too long -- way too long in coming, says analyst Craig Moffett, since the deal is "oh so 2005."
- "There was a certain logic to it at the time," Moffett says, pointing out that buying a satellite distribution arm would have been better 10 years ago, when Verizon was building a future-proof fiber network and AT&T's network limitations were clear even then.
- "Don't get us wrong. DirecTV is a well-run asset," Moffett writes, "with a sterling brand and strong management, and the company's free cash flow will clearly help sustain AT&T's dividend. But it is hard to make the case for genuine strategic fit between the two companies."
- Previously: With regulator eyes on Comcast-TWC, is AT&T's DirecTV purchase skating? (Mar. 17 2015)
Sun, Apr. 5, 9:18 AM
- T, PM, VZ, DUK, STX, GM, GE, MCD, CAT and DOW are 10 “high-quality” S&P 500 stocks with dividend yields of 3.5-5.7% and promising growth potential, Barron’s says, citing Howard Silverblatt of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services.
- 60 companies in the S&P 500 yield 3.5% or more, but the above stocks cover their dividends from estimated 2015 earnings. The list also excludes REITs and MLPs.
Sun, Apr. 5, 8:47 AM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is in talks with Hutchison Whampoa (OTCPK:HUWHY, OTCPK:HUWHF) for a deal that would allow Americans to use their phones abroad at no extra cost. Hutchison could give Google access to mobile service in the UK, Ireland, Italy, and several more markets.
- Google's goal, sources say, is to create a global network with the same cost for calls, texts, and data no matter where a customer is located. Hutchison would be a natural partner for Google, because it has also sought to eliminate roaming charges for its customers.
- Google has so far described its mobile network aspirations as "small scale." A serious move by Google or Apple to enter the mobile market would be feared by U.S. giants AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S) and others.
Thu, Apr. 2, 4:26 PM
- Over-the-top video services seems to have accelerating momentum as more unbundling happens every week, but high-yield pay-TV companies have little to worry about just yet, Moody's says in a new report.
- Customer inertia along with the limited competition they now face should buy providers time to adjust.
- "Evolutionary, not revolutionary" is how the firm describes the pay-TV shift, saying that OTT providers, including Sony and Apple, will take a small number of subscribers for now -- even though consumer perception seems to favor OTT options.
- The firm notes rising bills could force defections, but "the average customer may not realize how much content traditional pay TV service provides, from video on demand and across multiple devices."
- Pay TV stocks today: (CMCSA +1.5%), (TWC +1.9%), (CVC +0.9%), (CHTR -0.6%), (T +0.7%), (VZ +1.1%)
Thu, Apr. 2, 11:29 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.3%) isn't sitting (entirely) idle in the broadband speed race -- at least not in Atlanta.
- After Google amped up pressure on broadband speeds by launching its Fiber gigabit service project, and AT&T (NYSE:T) started followed up with more gigabit investment, Comcast is planning 2 Gbps symmetrical service in Atlanta, which would be the fastest residential service in the U.S.
- Still unknown, though, are the cost of the "Gigabit Pro" service -- the company charges $400/month for existing 505-Mbps service -- and any expansion plans outside Atlanta. Google Fiber is available in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah, at broadband cost of about $70/month.
- Both Google and AT&T have plans to expand their gigabit service to Atlanta.
- Comcast's service would be twice as fast as Google's and AT&T's, and four times as fast as Verizon FiOS Quantum, which comes in an $85 Internet/TV package.
Fri, Mar. 27, 8:58 PM
- Glenn Lurie, CEO of AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), says he's not worried about the outcome if Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) -- third and fourth in the U.S. wireless market behind AT&T and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- decide to merge.
- "We are a very, very different company than the other three," he tells FierceWireless. "So whatever happens with them, I'm not really that concerned. I'm concerned about how we execute and how we operate."
- His No. 1 goal, Lurie says, is to reduce churn and preserve the company's current subscribers in order to upsell other services.
- Chatter continues to suggest that Sprint and T-Mobile may have to think about combining to achieve competitive scale, and in the meantime they're firing salvos in a price war that Lurie says AT&T won't join: "This industry is not commoditized at all."
- Previously: Goldman upgrades T-Mobile; DT reiterates merger wish (Jan. 20 2015)
Fri, Mar. 27, 2:14 PM
Mon, Mar. 23, 4:34 PM
- In the wake of loud complaints from competitors about Dish Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) wireless spectrum bidding strategy -- using small-business partners to draw a 25% discount as "designated entities" -- the FCC is edging closer to reforming the process, Reuters reports.
- After being called to Congress and promising to "fix" the bidding rules, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a document to fellow commissioners to discuss specifics on how to reform the program.
- In particular, AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) complained of "distortion" in the bidding process created by Dish's practice of bidding through its DEs.
- While using DEs is common practice, the size of that auction meant that Dish saved billions via the 25% discount.
- The recent AWS-3 spectrum auction drew a record $45B -- but a "low-band" auction coming next year may be even more crucial to the industry competitors, as that spectrum is key to the ability to stretch wireless signal further into buildings.
- More on FCC auctions
T vs. ETF Alternatives
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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