Sun, Jan. 18, 12:57 PM
- TechCrunch reports Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is interested in acquiring Softcard, the mobile payments platform launched by AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) in 2010 - it was previously known as Isis, before changing its name for obvious reasons. Though Softcard's owners have invested hundreds of millions in the venture, sources state Google's purchase price could be below $100M.
- Like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, Softcard relies on NFC radios to enable transactions. And like Wallet, it has struggled to get off the ground, as U.S. consumers overwhelmingly stick with card swipes. Hard data on Apple Pay usage remains limited for now.
- Softcard recently laid off 60 employees. Meanwhile, it was reported in 2013 that Google had spent $300M on Wallet-related acquisitions, with little to show for it. The adoption of EMV (chip-and-PIN) readers by U.S. retailers could give NFC solutions a boost, by making card payments a little less convenient.
- The WSJ reports Google is partnering with consulting giant PwC to bid on a $2B+ contract to update the DoD's electronic health records system. PwC says Google's tools could both improve the system's security and performance, and lower costs. A group featuring IBM, HP (NYSE:HPQ), and CSC has made a rival bid.
- Ad tech firm Marin Software (NYSE:MRIN) provides some encouraging mobile search data ahead of Google's Jan. 29 Q4 report. A Marin study found mobile accounted for 49% of Q4 U.S. search ad spend, up from 42% in Q3, and that smartphone ad click rates were 38% higher than PC rates (thanks in part to accidental clicks?). On the other hand, mobile still only accounted for 32% of conversions.
- Medium writer Backchannel provides a deep dive into Google Search's evolution in an era where users increasingly want search engines to know the precise meaning of their queries. Part 1 looks at Google's efforts to optimize for mobile (aided by its Knowledge Graph and Google Now). Part 2 looks at Google's real-world research into the information needs of users. Part 3 looks at Google's investments in A.I./deep learning to deliver far more intelligent search results and spontaneously surface useful information.
Fri, Jan. 16, 6:19 PM
- Through its existing partnership with Wal-Mart, Sprint's (NYSE:S) Virgin Mobile brand is offering new prepaid shared data plans: A 2-line, 4GB plan goes for $65/month; a 3-line, 8GB plan goes for $90/month; and a 4-line, 12GB plan goes for $115/month.
- Virgin/Wal-Mart are also selling new individual prepaid plans: $35/month for 300 minutes, unlimited text, and 2.5GB of unthrottled data, and $45/month for unlimited talk/text and 2.5GB of unthrottled data.
- Sprint is abandoning the Virgin Mobile Custom brand (offered via Wal-Mart since last August), which the carrier says led to confusion among would-be customers. However's it's keeping Custom's ItsOn platform, which allows a primary account holder to decide how much of a shared data bucket goes to a particular user, as well as buy additional data, through an app.
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), meanwhile, has rolled out its Simply Prepaid plans. $40/month gets unlimited talk/text and 1GB of 4G data (3G speeds beyond that); an extra $10 and $20 respectively yields 3GB and 5GB of 4G data.
- Both carriers may have gained prepaid share in Q4: Sprint had 410K prepaid net adds, and T-Mobile 266K branded prepaid net adds. Sprint's calendar Q4 (FQ3) report arrives on the morning of Feb. 5.
Wed, Jan. 7, 12:01 PM
- As John Legere recently predicted, AT&T (T -1.7%) has followed T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) lead in allowing users to roll over unused mobile data, but with some fine print attached: While T-Mobile is letting Simple Choice plan users roll over unused data for up to 12 months, AT&T is only letting Mobile Share Value plan users roll over for one month.
- The announcement comes on a morning where T-Mobile reported 1.28M Q4 branded postpaid subscriber adds (1.04M phone, 239K mobile broadband). AT&T, which reports on Jan. 27, had 785K postpaid net adds in Q3 (~450K from tablets and "computing devices")
- The rollover announcement follows AT&T's launch of new enterprise machine-to-machine (M2M) data services and developer tools at CES, and a deal with theft-recovery service leader LoJack to power its telematics services for cars and commercial fleets. AT&T added over 500K connected car subscriptions in Q3.
- Shares are lower as a result of trading ex-dividend.
Wed, Jan. 7, 10:34 AM
- T-Mobile (TMUS +1.6%) added 1.28M branded postpaid subscribers in Q4 - down slightly from 1.38M in Q3 but up from 869K a year ago, and evidence of further share gains fueled by the carrier's aggressive pricing. Branded postpaid phone net adds totaled 1.04M, and branded mobile broadband net adds 239K.
- 266K branded prepaid subs were added vs. 411K in Q3 and 112K a year ago. M2M sub growth totaled 152K vs. 222K in Q3 and 172K a year ago, and MVNO sub growth amounted to 434K vs. 333K in Q3 and 492K a year ago.
- For the whole of 2014, T-Mobile added 8.3M subs, including 4.9M branded postpaid and 4M branded postpaid phone subs. The branded postpaid base stood at 27.2M at year's end (25.8M phone), and the branded prepaid base at 16.3M.
- In his 2015 predictions (previous), CEO John Legere suggested T-Mobile will try to add to its momentum by targeting U.S. consumers who still don't have a smartphone (roughly 1/4 of the populace) and/or Internet access, as well as SMBs.
Dec. 31, 2014, 2:31 PM
- "AT&T (T -1.1%) will find new ways to cause their customers pain [in 2015] - especially those still on grandfathered unlimited plans," predicts T-Mobile (TMUS +0.3%) CEO John Legere, feisty as ever while making his 2015 predictions. The FTC recently sued AT&T for throttling the data speeds of unlimited plan users.
- Legere, whose company has unleashed a margin-crimping price war against over the last two years, also forecasts AT&T will launch a "knock off" version of T-Mobile's Data Stash feature, which lets users roll over unused data from monthly buckets for up to 12 months. "The fine print will be massive, and they’ll miss the first and most important step in the process – which is to stop punishing their customers with domestic overages and instead get rid of them."
- He isn't any kinder to Verizon (VZ -0.8%), predicting Big Red will "keep trying to baffle American wireless customers with BS promos, like the one they did this year telling customers they could get a free iPhone 6 (don’t forget to read the small print!), as well as misleading advertising about everything from coverage maps to device trade-ins."
- As for share-losing Sprint (S +0.6%), Legere sees them "continue throwing out campaigns, offers and promotions – anything to see if it sticks." By mid-year, he expects the carrier to "realize they can’t slash their way to growth and start to invest in their network and customer care."
- Two things Legere has kind words for (besides T-Mobile): 1) Apple Watch (NASDAQ:AAPL), which he predicts will "mark the tipping point when wearables go from niche to mainstream." 2) Phablets, which he expects will see 50% sales growth next year and thereby boost data usage.
- One positive prediction for the industry in general: Legere forecasts 2/3 of devices sold next year by carriers will be subsidy-free, up from 41% in 2014. The margin improvement that has come from moving customers from subsidies to early-upgrade and installment plans has been a silver lining for the industry during its price war.
Dec. 19, 2014, 12:33 PM
- The FTC had accused T-Mobile (TMUS +1.5%), along with its three nationwide rivals, of billing users for unauthorized charges related to mobile content/services (i.e. cramming).
- The carrier will pay at least $90M to subscribers hit with the charges. It will also pay $18M in state fines, and $4.5M to the FCC.
- AT&T has already agreed to pay $105M to settle similar charges. A $105M settlement with Sprint is on tap.
Dec. 16, 2014, 2:34 PM
- A new service feature called Data Stash will allow T-Mobile (TMUS -1.7%) subs to roll over any unused data from a monthly bucket to subsequent months.
- There's no limit on how much data can be stored. New customers will also get a 10GB data reserve on top of their monthly allotments.
- The incentive comes after T-Mobile began allowing users to add tablets to their postpaid plans for free in April. Last year, it struck deals to give subscribers free 3G data in dozens of international markets.
- A promo involving relatively cheap unlimited 4G family plans was launched last week.
Dec. 12, 2014, 2:15 PM
- Less than a year after unloading its 45% Verizon Wireless stake for $130B, Vodafone (VOD -3.1%) says it will re-enter the U.S. mobile market as an MVNO leveraging T-Mobile's (TMUS -0.4%) network. A launch is expected in "late autumn 2015."
- The service will be aimed at the 400 U.S.-based multinationals Vodafone already counts as clients, as well as the 500 foreign multinational clients that "have a strong U.S. presence."
- The choice of T-Mobile as a partner will likely raise some eyebrows among Vodafone clients, given the "Un-carrier" has a much smaller corporate customer base than Verizon and AT&T. T-Mobile's penchant for aggressive pricing might have helped win Vodafone over.
Dec. 12, 2014, 6:56 AM
- SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) will soon downsize its Silicon Valley offices, Reuters reports, signaling the company won't revive efforts to buy T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS).
- The Japanese telecommunications company is also looking to rent out one of two buildings it leased at an annual cost of over $3M, which it had previously designated for T-Mobile.
- The "bulk" of its West Coast manpower is now set to be transferred elsewhere, including the dispersal of development engineers to Sprint (NYSE:S) headquarters in Kansas.
Dec. 9, 2014, 4:12 PM
- In its latest aggressive pricing maneuver, T-Mobile (TMUS -8.5%) is charging just $100/month for unlimited voice, text, and 4G data for a family of two, and $40/line for each additional user up to a limit of 10. Data tethering is capped at 5GB.
- With a family of four paying $180/month, the self-proclaimed Un-carrier asserts its plan is respectively $30/month, $100-$140/month, and $180/month cheaper than comparable AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon plans.
- The announcement comes in the wake of a Verizon Q4 warning (blamed in part on price pressure) that sparked a selloff in U.S. mobile carriers. AT&T later followed suit by stating it expects churn to be up Y/Y in Q4.
Dec. 9, 2014, 9:48 AM
- With price pressure from rivals as intense has ever, Verizon has warned it expects to see "short-term pressure" on its wireless margins and EPS, and that retail postpaid disconnects are "trending higher" both Q/Q and Y/Y.
- AT&T (T -2.8%) and Sprint (S -2.3%) aren't responding well to the news; the S&P is down 0.9%. Sprint's moves under new CEO Marcelo Claure (launched in an attempt to stem ongoing postpaid share losses) appear to be contributing to Verizon's challenges. Big Red has been gaining postpaid share relative to AT&T and Sprint, though not T-Mobile.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -5.1%) is down sharply, but shares had already sold off before the Verizon news, thanks to T-Mobile's convertible offering announcement.
Dec. 8, 2014, 5:41 PM
Dec. 8, 2014, 4:10 PM
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is offering 17.4M shares of mandatory convertible preferred stock featuring a liquidation preference of $50/share. Underwriters will have a 2.6M-share overallotment option.
- Proceeds will be used for "general corporate purposes, including capital investments and acquisition of additional spectrum unrelated to spectrum it may obtain in the Federal Communications Commissions pending AWS-3 spectrum auction."
- Total AWS-3 auction bids have surpassed $41B. Though Verizon, AT&T, and Dish are believed to be bidding more aggressively, T-Mobile's bill could still be significant. The carrier already raised debt in advance of the auction.
- Some of the new offering's proceeds could end up going towards 2016's 600MHz. incentive auction, which is expected to be bigger than the AWS-3 auction, and where T-Mobile is expected to spend heavily to address a relative shortage of low-band spectrum.
- T-Mobile's net debt totaled $17.3B at the end of Q3.
Dec. 2, 2014, 11:49 AM
- In a promo that starts on Friday, Sprint (S -1.2%) will offer AT&T (T -1%) and Verizon (VZ -0.7%) subs who switch to Sprint unlimited talk/text plans similar to the ones they're currently on a 50% price cut.
- One catch: Users have to trade in their existing AT&T/Verizon phones, and make an unsubsidized purchase of a Sprint phone (via leasing, installment plans, or a regular retail purchase).
- A Sprint rep "will select the service plan that most closely matches the data allowance" of a user's AT&T/Verizon plan. The carrier will cover up to $350 worth of early termination fees and installment plan balances per line.
- The offer is the latest in a series of aggressive promos and price cuts launched by new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, who has made a priority out of halting postpaid share losses. In addition to AT&T/Verizon, the promo takes aim at T-Mobile (TMUS -0.4%), which has been grabbing postpaid share (especially on the low-end) with its own aggressive offers.
- T-Mobile and Verizon's wireless service revenue respectively rose 10.6% and 4.8% in Q3, while AT&T and Sprint's fell 0.2% and 5%.
Nov. 19, 2014, 6:48 PM
- Bidding in the FCC's AWS-3 spectrum auction has reached $24.1B barely 24 hours after topping $14B. Through 15 rounds, $1.19B alone was bid on a 10x10 MHz. license for the NYC area.
- "While bids could suddenly slow down, the auction appears on pace to blow through the top end of our expected range," writes BTIG's Walter Piecyk. Whereas Piecyk initially forecast an average bid of $0.75-$1.25/MHz./POP, spending has already topped $1.50/MHz./POP.
- Deep-pocketed AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are likely the "most aggressive bidders," notes JPMorgan's Philip Cusick; he suspects T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is bidding more cautiously. New Street Research thinks AT&T and Verizon "will likely both go after a 10x10 MHz pair in all of the critical markets."
- Tim Farrar suspects DISH is bidding up prices on the assumption AT&T/Verizon will respond by upping their bids regardless of the cost. This morning, Piecyk estimated the auction had served to increase the value of Dish's existing spectrum to ~$2/MHz./POP from ~$1.50/MHz./POP, thereby making Dish worth $104/share rather than a prior estimate of $85/share. Dish rose 10% in regular trading.
- Though bidding is expected to slow down soon, it might not fully end for a few more weeks. Until then, the FCC won't disclose the names of winning bidders, or how much they're paying.
Nov. 18, 2014, 4:09 PM
- Following 14 rounds, total bids in the FCC's AWS-3 (high-band) spectrum auction have reached $14.18B. Bids have been placed for 1,303 of the 1,614 available licenses, and a $10.1B aggregate reserve price has been surpassed.
- AT&T (T -0.4%), Verizon (VZ -0.3%), T-Mobile (TMUS -0.3%), and Dish (DISH +4%) are among the companies bidding on the spectrum, which includes paired licenses (50GHz. altogether) in the 1.7GHz. and 2.1GHz. bands (good for high-density urban areas). T-Mobile raised debt ahead of the auction to help finance its efforts.
- The furious bidding pace highlights the strong interest U.S. carriers have in growing their spectrum portfolios to cope with rapid mobile data traffic growth. An even bigger auction for 600MHz. (low-band) spectrum was recently delayed until 2016; AT&T and Verizon will face purchase restrictions in that one.
TMUS vs. ETF Alternatives
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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