Thu, Oct. 8, 2:55 PM
- Following on a Sprint move to raise the price of its unlimited data plan by $10/month, Verizon (VZ +0.4%) says it's hiking the price of its grandfathered unlimited-data plans by $20/month.
- That's set to take effect Nov. 15, though those on a two-year unlimited-data contract will get to see their rates play out.
- The move is likely a not too subtle nudge toward the company's tiered plans for those who still have unlimited data. Verizon says "most of our customers (99%)" aren't on unlimited plans.
Fri, Oct. 2, 8:41 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has gone live with its Go90 mobile video service, and today the app jumped into the No. 14 spot in iOS Entertainment.
- That's a spot well behind Netflix and Hulu, but ahead of Comcast's Xfinity TV Go and HBO Now.
- The company planned an $80M marketing blitz to support the launch, and says it has a content library of 8,000 titles and 35 exclusive original series.
- The app is free to all, meaning advertising will be the moneymaker -- and so the quality of content will be king. Go90 got more than $50M in ad commitments including an upfront deal with its exclusive agency partner Publicis Groupe (OTCQX:PUBGY +1.4%).
- With few long-form shows at the moment, Go90 is competing less with OTT services like Netflix, Hulu or HBO Now, and more with YouTube, Snapchat and other Webby services.
- Jefferies noted after meeting with AOL's Tim Armstrong that Verizon wants to grow into a "leading scaled OTT provider serving millions of customers while also becoming a top 3 player in the mobile advertising marketplace."
Fri, Oct. 2, 1:58 PM
- Is it over? A seemingly endless legal back-and-forth over Internet speed advertising between Cablevision (CVC +0.7%) and Verizon (VZ -0.6%) looks to be settled after months of claims and counterclaims.
- Cablevision sued Verizon in January over ads for the "fastest Wi-Fi available," beginning a series of attack ads and legal maneuvers between the two, including a new suit in May and a transferred case in June.
- August brought a win for Verizon with a temporary restraining order against Cablevision's ads.
- Cablevision may be settling all (Dolan) family business now that it has a deal in place to be bought by France's Altice.
Fri, Oct. 2, 1:34 PM
- Despite earlier thoughts that Dish Network's (DISH -0.7%) Charlie Ergen would sue or pay up over the denied $3.3B small-business discounts in the FCC spectrum auction, the company and affiliates decided to surrender spectrum for re-auction.
- That might mean a deal with Verizon (VZ -0.4%) isn't dead, though, Jefferies analyst Mike McCormack notes, as the surrendered blocks are closer to spectrum owned by AT&T and T-Mobile, whereas "It is possible that the selected licenses were chosen in such a fashion as to not impact a potential future sale of the portfolio to Verizon."
- After meeting with Verizon execs this week, he heard again that the company isn't interested in an outright acquisition of Dish. "Verizon would be open to a transaction for the spectrum, but not at any cost," he writes. "(Verizon CFO Fran Shammo) pointed out that a wholesale spectrum lease model would be a very complex transaction and that Verizon would prefer a transaction that offered perpetual benefits."
- The surrendered airwaves are likely to be re-auctioned in the broadcast incentive auction set for March 29, and Dish will be eligible to re-bid for them.
- Previously: WSJ: Dish affiliates returning some auctioned wireless spectrum (Oct. 01 2015)
Wed, Sep. 30, 5:15 PM
- Sprint (S +2.7%) is going to kick up the cost of its unlimited data plan, formerly $60/month, to $70/month, showing that unlimited data plans may be testing sustainability at the wireless carriers.
- That's still the best U.S. postpaid deal for that plan, and current customers will be grandfathered in at the $60/month rate. The price changes for new customers Oct. 16.
- T-Mobile (TMUS +0.6%) sells an unlimited data plan for $80/month, and AT&T (T +1.5%) and Verizon (VZ -0.1%) don't offer one.
- Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has alluded to the strain of unlimited data, as well as wishes to bump customers toward the tiered data plans.
- Earlier, Sprint pursued limiting video download speeds, but has removed such restrictions as customers pushed back.
Thu, Sep. 24, 7:24 PM
- With wireless carriers fighting over new iPhone deals seemingly every few hours, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is responding to the scrum with Sprint and T-Mobile and now offering customers a program to upgrade their iPhone annually.
- So long as users have paid off at least half their device's cost and turn in their current device, they'll be eligible to upgrade each year without waiting for their contract to end.
- "If you’re not interested in upgrading, you still have the option to pay your phone off in 24 low monthly payments," Verizon says in its release, warning about "surprise balloon payments" with competitors.
- Customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus under Verizon's Device Payment installment option are automatically enrolled.
- Earlier, T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) introduced an iPhone lease plan as low as $5/month, and Sprint (NYSE:S) responded with an all-night number crunch to create today's $1/month lease plan.
- In after-hours action: VZ +0.1%; S -0.2%; TMUS unchanged.
Tue, Sep. 22, 7:24 PM
- With most observers thinking any theoretical merger between T-Mobile (TMUS -1.1%) and Sprint (S +0.3%) would have to wait until a new U.S. administration (and John Legere saying "Oh yeah ... the only possible coming together of Sprint and T-Mobile is if we pick them up off the sidewalk"), analysts at Evercore say the two could combine network assets.
- It would be a sort of a merger, into a new company (a REIT in particular) that would hold their network resources. Bigger investments at lower cost would come, along with a speedier network once spectrum assets were blended.
- Given up, of course, would be the chance to differentiate, and snipe the rival over network power.
- Combined, the two control 255 MHz of spectrum, more than the 147 MHz at AT&T (T -0.9%) or the 116 MHz of Verizon (VZ -0.9%). A new "NetCo" would rent the network back to the two, as well as possibly others, and support MVNO customers.
- As a final entry in the "pro" column, the analysts note a combined network would make any future merger more headache-free.
Tue, Sep. 22, 12:46 PM
- Traffic checks of U.S. wireless carriers by Pacific Crest's Michael Bowen show slowness for the leaders and some momentum for challengers.
- Verizon (VZ -1%) was "slow" and AT&T (T -0.9%) "somewhat weak" in the past month heading into a key iPhone announcement. Verizon saw a lower amount of pre-orders for the iPhone and was coming off a data plan re-sizing; AT&T is lower-key about pushing phone upgrades, though tablet promotions are going well and customers are responding to DirecTV bundles.
- Meanwhile, promotions are bearing fruit at T-Mobile (TMUS -1.9%) and Sprint (S -1%). T-Mobile traffic was "strong," Bowen says, with employees optimistic about iPhone pre-orders and new financing plans. Meanwhile, most Sprint stores met or beat August goals and expect the same for September, as the "iPhone forever" leasing plan is showing strong demand.
Mon, Sep. 21, 8:33 PM
- Verizon (VZ +0.5%) could go for a lease of Dish Network's (DISH +2.4%) valuable spectrum haul by the end of this year, analysts at New Street Research believe.
- At Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference last week, Verizon chief Lowell McAdam signaled that the company would be interested in talking with Dish about the airwaves, including a megabytes-for-spectrum swap. "Verizon seemed to shift their tone on Dish's spectrum last week, which we think potentially sets up a transaction between now and year end," writes New Street.
- The analysts think it would be difficult for Verizon to pay cash for the lease considering its debt. They believe Dish's spectrum is worth $63B, with the AWS-3 and AWS-4 airwaves worth $53B in themselves.
- The timing of the deal could be accelerated by a likely quiet period that the FCC could impose over spectrum negotiation, from the end of this year until mid-2016.
- The FCC is planning a broadcast incentive spectrum auction for March 29.
Fri, Sep. 18, 5:43 PM
- Along with delivering expectations of strong customer growth, T-Mobile (TMUS -1.5%) CEO John Legere said the company would aggressively take part in the upcoming broadcast incentive spectrum auction.
- Legere also didn't disappoint when it came to talking down competitors, predicting failure for Verizon's (VZ -1.4%) freshly launching mobile video service.
- "I do think this Go90 could be the biggest debacle," he said at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia. "I mean it's right up there with the Amazon Fire phone, the Facebook phone, you remember that?"
- Another Legere trademark: Opining on consolidation that could include T-Mobile. "You really believe that the Comcast (CMCSA -1.8%) future in wireless is to be an MVNO with Verizon? I mean, give me a break. ... The timing of when the cable players come into the wireless phase — it's purely determined by who blinks first."
- Previously: T-Mobile up as Legere sees 'significant' Q3 customer growth (Sep. 18 2015)
- Previously: Verizon's McAdam: Earnings plateau in 2016, then off to races (Sep. 17 2015)
- Previously: Verizon rolling out Go90 video service in beta program (Sep. 08 2015)
Fri, Sep. 18, 2:48 AM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) will begin offering roaming wireless service in Cuba next week, becoming the first U.S. company to do so.
- Currently, visiting Americans must purchase plans through state-owned Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba to have cellular service on the island, or have a cellphone account in a third country.
- The news comes on the same day Cuba said its first ambassador to the U.S. since 1961 presented his credentials at the White House.
Thu, Sep. 17, 4:11 PM
- Earnings growth may be a ways off for Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- more from a company transformation than any pressure from competitors, says CEO Lowell McAdam.
- "I see a plateauing, if you will, between '15 and '16," McAdam said at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference. "And then I see '17, we move back into the growth trajectory."
- Much of that expectation had been baked in by analysts, but the stock fell 2.3% today just the same.
- He attributed the flatness to digesting change at Verizon: the rise of equipment installment plans ("a big shift from service revenue to total revenue ... the banks have been very supportive of it, but it changes the profile of your cash flows"), the sale of wirelines to Frontier to focus on the Northeast, and its moves with the Go90 video service and acquisitions of AOL and Millennial Media.
- The wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas were "very profitable properties for us and they will do well with Frontier, but we thought we needed to move those into someone else's hands so that we can focus on that Northeast corridor."
Thu, Sep. 17, 1:20 PM
- Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) is up 3.7% amid news that it's getting extra time from the FCC on the dispute over its $3B in wireless spectrum auction discounts.
- The FCC had released an order denying the discounts to Dish in August. The agency is giving Dish until Oct. 1 to submit payment or a credit letter, after Dish noted "new and complex business issues" in asking for extra time.
- There's been a hint of buyout chatter around the satellite broadcaster; meanwhile, Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) Lowell McAdam says they'll talk to Dish about spectrum but not buying the whole company.
- Previously: FCC votes to deny Dish Network $3.3B in small-business credit (Aug. 17 2015)
- Previously: Dish's Ergen: May not keep spectrum haul if discounts denied (Aug. 05 2015)
Tue, Sep. 15, 4:49 PM
- AT&T (T +0.9%) and Verizon (VZ +1.6%) have both said they're amping up their footprint in Best Buy stores, meaning more products and more service.
- Verizon's begun its expansion already, and plans to have 100 locations done by month's end. The areas are "geared to showcase connected lifestyles – such as wearable tech, computing on the go and connected home – and the devices and plans that make these lifestyles a reality," said Verizon's John Colaiuti.
- Both companies plan to have expanded their new approaches to all 250 stores by the end of 2015.
- Meanwhile, in a review of U.S. wireless firms, Morgan Stanley has reiterated its Overweight rating on Verizon, and an Equal Weight rating on AT&T.
Thu, Sep. 10, 4:43 PM
- Cablevision Systems (CVC -2.7%) is up more than 32% YTD, but Citigroup's sticking to its "contrarian" view that its movement of late is based on unlikely acquisition hopes.
- The firm's Jason Bazinet has a $21 price target on the shares along with a Sell rating. Shares closed today at $27.29 -- an implied downside of 23%.
- The stock's performance, he says, may be due to investor hopes that Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY) -- the french telecom that acquired Suddenlink -- could snap up Cablevision. But Citigroup thinks a target of the FiOS/wireline business of Cablevision competitor Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is far more likely.
- Without a sale, though, he figures fair value at $18/share for Cablevision, vs. $34/share with a sale.
- That's due to the firm's 25% probability of an Altice acquisition: "In effect, if Altice acquires Cablevision, we see $6 upside to the stock. But, if Altice acquires Verizon [wirelines], we see $10 downside in Cablevision's shares. That's a risk-reward we don't find attractive." In any case, CVC won't trade sideways, he says, with some kind of sale likely eventually.
- Previously: Cablevision up 7.2% as buy-minded Drahi drops name (Jul. 10 2015)
- Previously: Cablevision up 11% following Altice/Suddenlink tie-up (May. 20 2015)
Thu, Sep. 10, 3:20 PM
- Aside from the usual feature hype of Apple's new iPhones, it's the company's new financing plans that throw an interesting wrinkle at service providers, who have usually financed phones -- and some analysts figure T-Mobile (TMUS +0.6%) and Sprint (S -1.2%) have an edge with the new arrangement.
- Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche notes the two have cheaper ways of getting the phone: T-Mobile's monthly offering of $20-$24/month, even with optional insurance of $8/month, still beats Apple's cheapest $32/month by $4. Meanwhile, Sprint's 24-month "iPhone forever" offering is $22/month (or even cheaper, $15/month, for those jumping this year).
- The carriers have more comprehensive insurance as well, since AppleCare doesn't cover lost or stolen phones.
- Switching carriers gets easier with Apple's new approach, to which leaders AT&T (T -0.1%) and Verizon (VZ +0.1%) are most vulnerable, she says. “However, we note that the vast majority (90%+) of T and VZ’s customer base is on corporate or family plans, which tend to be the stickiest customers.”
- Meanwhile, at T-Mobile, John Legere is now pushing a "lifetime coverage guarantee" that offers refunds for device payments for unhappy iPhone 6s and 6s Plus buyers who use the carrier's Jump On Demand device plan, along with getting an unlocked device.
- Previously: Sprint up 3.4% as it introduces plan to upgrade iPhones anytime (Aug. 17 2015)
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Verizon Communications Incis a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. Its two segments are Wireless and Wireline.
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