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%.
Tue, Jun. 2, 12:13 PM
- With a federal review now in its endgame, AT&T (T +0.4%) is ready to make concessions in order to seal its $49B deal for DirecTV (DTV +0.2%), The Washington Post reports.
- Speculation has centered on whether AT&T would embrace the FCC's new net neutrality rules regardless of the outcome of its pending litigation -- and the company appears ready to do so in several areas to get the deal done.
- Along with offering stand-alone broadband plans that might encourage cord-cutting, AT&T would honor a ban on blocking and throttling (slowing down) sites, as well as agree to refrain from "paid prioritization" -- where companies pay Internet providers to get into a "fast lane."
- Several details are unclear, though, including how long AT&T would need to abide by the commitments (earlier reports suggested several years), or what its broadband-only plans would have to look like in speed and price (opponents want 25 MBps for $30/month; AT&T's countered with 6 MBps for $35/month).
- Also still a thorny issue: interconnection fees that have seen content firms wrestling with carriers over who's paying for heavy traffic from the likes of Netflix.
- Previously: AT&T/DirecTV deal review still paused at FCC (May. 28 2015)
Thu, May 28, 7:47 PM
- The "shot clock" on the FCC's review of AT&T's (NYSE:T) purchase offer for DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- the 180-day period where the agency vets the deal -- is still in pause, even though deal reviews will be starting to pile up behind it (Charter-TWC, Avago/Broadcom).
- The FCC paused the clock in mid-March with just 10 days left, and while it's an informal deadline, it can be used to get more documents for review.
- That pause was due to a court case on third-party programming contracts, and that was decided weeks ago.
- AT&T, for its part, is submitting more documents in hopes of getting the review moving again.
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)
Tue, May 26, 7:34 PM
- In an effort to make a planned wholesale mobile broadband network more attractive to operators, Mexico is cutting the estimated investment to build the network to $7B, from $10B.
- The network -- built into the country's constitutional telecom reforms, and having exclusive use of 90 MHz of the 700 MHz band -- is to be built and run by private companies bidding for the rights, and used by companies offering mobile service.
- The 2013 reforms were designed to cap the dominance of Carlos Slim's America Movil (NYSE:AMX), but the playing field has leveled somewhat since then, particularly with AT&T's (NYSE:T) entry by acquiring Iusacell and Nextel Mexico.
- The Mexican government now believes that the costs will be lower since it may require closer to 12,000 towers than 20,000, and it's considering whether existing companies like AT&T and Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) could participate not just as clients. The network needs to reach a 20%-25% mobile market share by revenue to become profitable.
Fri, May 22, 12:50 PM
- Despite an LTE buildout that's mostly done, AT&T (T -1.2%) is still out looking for more 700 MHz spectrum, filing to buy three C Block licenses to cover parts of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, as well as other licenses to cover southern and eastern Illinois.
- After the transaction with East Kentucky Network, AT&T would hold 113-145 MHz (43-55 MHz below 1 GHz) of spectrum in those three CMAs, and the Illinois deal with Cellular Properties would leave it with 101-173 MHz (31-68 MHz below 1 GHz) of spectrum in those areas.
- AT&T claims it covers 308M with LTE and so, like T-Mobile, it's likely working to expand into areas where it didn't have coverage.
Thu, May 21, 2:34 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is up 1.3% a day after it added some clarity to its Mexico strategy via its local chief executive Thaddeus Arroyo.
- The company is focused now on integration of recently acquired assets from Iusacell and Nextel Mexico, he says, and will make substantial (though unspecified) investments to expand the mobile network.
- AT&T adjusted its reported Iusacell customers down to 6M, from 9.2M that Iusacell reported: “This is quite normal," Arroyo said. "When we buy a company, we apply our own rules on how we count customers. We’ll do the same thing with Nextel," which has a reported 3M customers.
- Merging the networks won't be easy, says 4G Americas' Jose Otero. Neither Iusacell nor Nextel had a nationwide footprint, and Nextel lacks a retail presence having not really gone after the consumer market.
- Existing Mexico operators have responded to the deals by offering aggressive plan/phone promotions. AT&T plans to exploit a smartphone gap (only just over 50% smartphone penetration) using refurbished trade-ins and pursuing a greater LTE footprint in a country that's light on LTE.
Thu, May 21, 9:30 AM
- Alongside Goldman's list of 50 stocks appearing most as top holdings at hedge funds is its list of the 50 top shorts.
- New additions this quarter: Baxter Intl (NYSE:BAX), UPS, Marriott (NASDAQ:MAR), NextEra (NYSE:NEE), Ford (NYSE:F), National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Pioneer Natural (NYSE:PXD), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Seagate (NASDAQ:STX), AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).
- The full list (in order of $ value of short interest): AT&T (NYSE:T), Disney (NYSE:DIS), IBM, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), J&J (NYSE:JNJ), Deere (NYSE:DE), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Exelon (NYSE:EXC), GE, Boeing (NYSE:BA), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), UTX, Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN), Merck (NYSE:MRK), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), AbbVie (ABBV), Conoco (NYSE:COP), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Emerson (NYSE:EMR), McDonald's (MCD), Reynolds (NYSE:RAI), Target (NYSE:TGT), Accenture (NYSE:ACN), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).
Mon, May 18, 2:55 PM
- AT&T (T +1.8%) is planning exclusive mobile content for connected cars and has eight automaker partners to work with on the initiative.
- The company is trying to offer free or paid games and videos exclusively to the cars in an effort to sell more data, now that the market is growing more saturated with mobile phone users.
- Partners include General Motors, Audi, and Ford. AT&T's looking at different business models to make the plan happen, including different revenue shares and an advertising infrastructure.
- "A lot of (content and offers) can be targeted to the make and models of the vehicles," says AT&T's emerging-devices chief Chris Penrose.
Mon, May 18, 10:22 AM
- After a pause, AT&T (T +0.4%) looks ready to move forward with new investment on the expectation that new net neutrality rules will get changed either by the courts (AT&T is party to action in federal court) or Congress.
- CEO Randall Stephenson had suggested that the company pause a plan to spend billions while they awaited the final rules from the FCC on how the industry would be regulated.
- Now: "So we've said we're going to invest around $18 billion this year. That will allow us to deploy a wireless broadband solution to 13 million homes around the U.S.," he said on CNBC. "That compares to about $22 billion last year."
- AT&T extended its deadline for acquiring DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) as it expects to close the deal in Q2 and many observers think the acquisition will be done at least by July.
Fri, May 15, 7:07 PM
- Broadband subscribership grew by nearly 1.2M in Q1, according to a Leichtman Research Group report examining the top 17 ISPs.
- Cable made up 86% of that growth; Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), the nation's largest MVPD, added 407K users by itself. It's the first quarter since Q1 2008 where cable logged more than 1M net broadband adds, says Bruce Leichtman.
- Overall, leading ISPs now boast 88.5M subscribers, cable with 53M of those.
- Not coincidentally, cable's recently had momentum on the network-investment front, with firms like Comcast and CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) investing in their gigabit broadband installations.
- Related companies: VZ, T, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, WIN, FRP, CBB
- Previously: A hint for Comcast's 2-Gig pricing? (May. 11 2015)
- Previously: Comcast call: Now more broadband company than cableco (May. 04 2015)
Fri, May 15, 6:44 PM
- AT&T (T +0.6%) and DirecTV (DTV +0.5%) both gained today as their merger grows more and more likely (and nearer -- most observers expect a done deal in July).
- Unsurprisingly, the two companies filed an 8-K today extending the original merger termination date from May 18 (one year after it was set) to allow for the time needed to close the deal.
- The FCC has yet to restart the 180-day "shot clock" on the deal that they paused in mid-March. An intervening case over disclosure of programming contracts was thrown out by an appeals court.
- Previously: Dish, Cogent lay out concessions for AT&T/DirecTV deal (May. 13 2015)
- Previously: Appeals court throws out FCC's order to reveal contracts (May. 08 2015)
- Previously: Cogent joins Netflix in demanding conditions for AT&T/DirecTV combo (May. 05 2015)
- Related: AT&T: The DirecTV Deal Gets A Major Boost (May. 15 2015)
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.
Wed, May 13, 11:37 PM
- Cox Communications has sued AT&T (NYSE:T), saying its U-verse TV service is infringing on three Cox patents.
- The patents in question cover a "Method and System for Multicast Using Multiple Transport Streams," "Generating a personalized video mosaic in a cable services network," and "Access system and method for providing interactive access to an information source through a television distribution system."
- Monetary damages sought are unspecified, though the suit does seek a permanent injunction from "practicing or providing systems or services" that use the patented work.
- Among MSOs (multiple-system operators of TV systems), U-verse is the fifth-largest, with some 6M subscribers, while Cox is seventh, with about 4.54M subscribers.
Wed, May 13, 6:50 PM
- Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI), along with other advocacy groups, have spelled out the conditions they'd like to see for a successful AT&T (NYSE:T) purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
- Opponents to the deal met with FCC staffers last week; AT&T is expected to meet with deal reviewers in the coming days, and hopes to close the deal by the end of June.
- Dish, Cogent and other critics asked that AT&T promise to sell Internet as a standalone service outside of its bundles at a reasonable price, and they asked the FCC to make AT&T comply with stricter net neutrality provisions for seven years, regardless of how AT&T's suit against the rules comes out.
- Also requested: that AT&T include all video in any data caps, and restrictions on how AT&T handles interconnect traffic -- which particularly affects Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Dish's new Sling TV streaming service, key competition for DirecTV service.
- Previously: Cogent joins Netflix in demanding conditions for AT&T/DirecTV combo (May. 05 2015)
- Previously: Netflix to FCC: Reject AT&T/DirecTV merger (May. 05 2015)
Wed, May 13, 5:13 PM
- As promised, AT&T (NYSE:T) and friends have taken their request for a stay of FCC net neutrality regulations to federal court.
- The regulations are set to take effect June 12, and AT&T -- joined by CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), the NCTA, wireless association CTIA, the American Cable Association, US Telecom and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association -- is pressing to hold them until lengthy lawsuits play out.
- The companies and groups say their issue is with the Title II classification for broadband (exposing it to utility-like regulation); they don't have any problem with prohibitions on blocking or throttling traffic or setting priority delivery.
- Previously: FCC denies requests to stay its net neutrality ruling (May. 08 2015)
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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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