Yesterday, 8:34 AM
- After a late Thursday board meeting, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has confirmed it's dropping its $45B plan to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- a stunning reversal of a 15-month plan, which got less stunning as hurdles began to mount in recent weeks.
- "Today, we move on," says Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." It's a cheap walk-away for Comcast, which had no breakup fee in the deal.
- What next? Consolidation is still likely in a deeply uncompetitive industry. Other companies are now officially front and center in pursuit of TWC, notably John Malone's Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), which could re-launch its own failed effort. CHTR-TWC would have 16.5M broadband subscribers together, less than Comcast's 22M.
- Charter's deal with Comcast aimed at divestment and easing the Comcast-TWC transaction also blows up. What about Charter's deal to acquire Bright House?
- As for Comcast, it could take its stored-up momentum outside of cable -- to someone like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), as BTIG's Rich Greenfield hints? Or to a telecom like T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS)?
- Updated: Time Warner Cable statement. "We have always believed that Time Warner Cable is a one-of-a-kind asset," says Chairman and CEO Robert D. Marcus. "We are strong and getting stronger."
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)
Wed, Apr. 22, 2:07 PM
- As rumored, Google's (GOOG +1.1%) anticipated U.S. mobile service has launched today with the help of network partners Sprint (S +1.7%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%). Also as rumored, Google is pricing aggressively and providing free roaming for the service, which is known as Project Fi.
- Google is charging just $20/month for voice, SMS, Wi-Fi tethering, and international roaming in 120+ countries. Each GB of data (also comes with roaming) costs an extra $10/month; notably, any unused data is refunded. Users automatically connect to more than 1M Wi-Fi hotspots when they're available, and rely on Sprint/T-Mobile's 4G networks when they're not.
- The big catch (also as expected): The service is only available for now via Motorola Mobility's huge Nexus 6 phablet (6" 2K display). iPhone owners and those preferring smaller Android phones are out of luck. That limits the near-term threat posed to U.S. carriers by Fi, which (as the Nexus line does for hardware) aims to showcase Google's vision of what mobile services should be like.
- Also: Much like many Google Web services launching in beta, Fi is launching as an invite-only service. U.S. consumers can request an invite on Google's Fi site.
Wed, Apr. 22, 1:08 PM
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is up 1.9% as Citigroup's Michael Rollins adds the stock to the "Citi Focus List," citing improving operating income over the next three quarters.
- He points to a possible market-share pickup as T-Mobile and Verizon (which reported earnings yesterday) are "increasingly segmenting" the category between reliable quality and urban value.
- The analyst believes T-Mobile could grow service revenue by 9.9% in Q1 and about 10% for the full year, to near $25B.
- Rollins has a Buy rating on the shares with a $40 price target; T-Mobile is trading at $33.98.
Tue, Apr. 21, 8:06 PM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is ready to push out its wireless phone service as soon as tomorrow, the WSJ reports, and it's expected to allow customers to pay only for data used.
- That could put pressure on existing providers who have pocketed excess fees spent on data "buckets" that typically waste a reported $28/month per subscriber.
- As previously reported, the service will work only on Google's latest Nexus 6 devices and will use Wi-Fi nets to route calls and data. Wireless service will be via Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) networks, switching between them depending on stronger signal.
- The deal represents a threat to the wireless status quo, even as transit agreements are good for Sprint and T-Mobile. The decision in Sprint's case to go along reportedly went all the way to Chairman Masayoshi Son.
- Previously: WSJ: Google's phone service to initially have just one (giant) phone (Mar. 05 2015)
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.
Wed, Apr. 15, 4:32 PM
- Wireless operator NTELOS Holdings (NTLS +2.9%) says it's wrapped up its PCS spectrum sale in the Eastern Markets (Hampton Roads/Norfolk and Richmond, Va.) to T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) for about $56M in cash.
- The move was another part of NTELOS' refocus on Western Markets of Western Virginia and West Virginia. The company previously agreed to sell cell towers to P-E firm Grain Management and will cut its subscriber base roughly in half as part of the refocus.
- NTELOS will lease back part of the spectrum to serve customers until shuts down the operations in November. It plans to use these proceeds to expand 4G LTE coverage in the Western Markets.
- Previously: NTELOS up after pointing to some Western progress (Feb. 26 2015)
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
Fri, Apr. 10, 9:21 PM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is working to match T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) by rolling out free international data roaming in 15 countries, a year after T-Mobile introduced a similar service.
- All Sprint customers can add the plan to their domestic plan for free, and they'll get unlimited texts and $0.20/minute calls in the 15 countries.
- Data speeds will be "up to 2G," though Sprint is selling data roaming passes that bump the speeds to 3G.
- T-Mobile offers 2G speeds as well, and says less than 1% of the 2M users so far have upgraded from there to higher speed roaming.
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, 7:58 PM
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE:S), along with Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), might fail in their bid to get a bigger set-aside in a crucial early-2016 auction of low-band wireless spectrum -- but what they get might be better than nothing, which is a risk if the auction's delayed, Guggenheim's Paul Gallant notes.
- The companies have argued for rule changes that would set aside 40 MHz of an expected 70-80 MHz for smaller firms (i.e.: not AT&T or Verizon), rather than the 30 MHz currently set aside. But that's an uphill battle, and "just holding the auction in early 2016 would be a very good development for them, because slipping into 2017 creates risk that the set-aside disappears completely," notes Gallant.
- AT&T and Verizon argue that Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBY) and Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) have the resources to help Sprint and T-Mobile respectively with their bids, but the foreign firms don't appear to be willing.
- The FCC's AWS-3 auction set a record with nearly $45B in bids, but the low-band auction may be even more critical to the competitive landscape, as the signals travel over longer distances and through buildings' walls in cities.
- Previous FCC auction news
Tue, Apr. 7, 7:58 PM
- Based on momentum, analysts seem convinced that T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) will pass Sprint (NYSE:S) to become the No. 3 carrier in the U.S. -- though the question is exactly when that will happen: in upcoming Q1 results, or a bit later.
- If you believe T-Mobile CEO John Legere, it's already happened, since he thinks Sprint miscounts "dead" MVNO accounts.
- Nomura's Adal Ilkowitz is with him in thinking T-Mobile's already bigger based on Q1, and so is Jefferies' Mike McCormack, who believes T-Mobile grew by 2.15M subscribers in Q1, and Sprint by only 397K.
- MoffettNathanson's Craig Moffett thinks the pass will happen, but not until the end of May.
- The particular ranking is clearly a bigger deal to Legere and T-Mobile, as Sprint is likely heavily focused on a network buildout to increase speed, reach and reliability. Sprint's expected to detail its plans with its earnings report, due May 11.
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)
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
Wed, Mar. 18, 2:20 PM
- At its latest "un-carrier" marketing event, T-Mobile (TMUS +0.6%) started taking the price war to business, pushing low-cost plans for small and medium businesses that are about half that of rivals AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
- The company is launching a plan that offers switching companies a rate of $15/line for 20-plus lines, featuring unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data, upgradeable to unlimited data for $30. The price drops to $10/line for 1,000 or more.
- It's also picking up device costs (up to $650) for switchers.
- T-Mobile is the smallest of the big four wireless providers, but CEO John Legere says it's not making desperation moves: "This is not a diving, 'hail mary' pass for us -- we're growing like crazy," he says in Q&A. "This is logical, planned growth."
- IDC says T-Mobile increased its share in business services to 10% from 3% last year.
- Legere also pointed to the importance of the coming lowband spectrum auction: "That [recent AWS-3 auction] wasn't an important auction for us. The lowband is."
Tue, Mar. 17, 12:16 PM
- Sprint (S -1.8%) is launching its "Workplace-as-a-Service" connectivity solution, a product suite it says has "all the technology needed to run a business, offered on a predictable per-user, per-month basis."
- The comprehensive offering (including managed Wi-Fi, WAN connectivity and voice along with device management) is one of a few recent carrier moves toward Unified Communications.
- The service will start at $200 per user per month, and Sprint says it offers up to 50% savings based on its IT spending research.
- The move gets a one-day head-start on T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), widely expected to use its event tomorrow to promote new business solutions.
- Previously: T-Mobile event may focus on business market (Mar. 09 2015)
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T-Mobile US Inc provideswireless communication servicesin the postpaid, prepaid, and wholesale markets.The Company's products and services includevoice, messaging, data services,wireless devices, smartphones and other mobile communication devices.
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