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
Mon, Mar. 23, 3:24 PM
- The Barron's 400 has regularly beaten the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) since its 2007 launch, writes Chris Dieterich, and also powers the Barron's 400 ETF (NYSEARCA:BFOR), which has topped the S&P 500 by nearly 500 basis points since starting in June 2013. BFOR is up 6% YTD, more than double that of the S&P 500.
- Among those added to the index during last week's twice-yearly rebalancing were Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP).
- Among those dropped were McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and IBM.
- A "ruthless" quantitative security-selection method screens for growth, value, and cash flow, and filters further with other factors such as diversification.
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 low-band spectrum auction: "That [recent AWS-3 auction] wasn't an important auction for us. The low-band is."
Fri, Mar. 13, 5:57 PM
- More in a growing series of moves from America's No. 3 and No. 4 carriers to cut into the share of AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) ...
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is offering selected customers a free upgrade to unlimited 4G LTE for the rest of 2015. The customers are getting a text link to a page describing their upgrade. However, those customers will lose their rollover Data Stash unless they opt out of the freebie.
- In a boundless push for customers, Sprint (NYSE:S), meanwhile, is upping the ante on its aggressive pricing by offering to pay all of a customer's costs to switch to them -- remaining phone installments, termination fees, regardless of the amount. The company is requiring that you turn in your current phone and a bill showing the charges due.
- Previously: With declining postpaid ARPU, Sprint eyes customer growth (Feb. 05 2015)
Thu, Mar. 12, 11:11 PM
- The FCC released its lengthy order on net neutrality and Title II regulation today, starting a timetable to get it into the Federal Register and then a 60-day period to put the rules into effect.
- Overall, the 400-page order leaves some case-by-case room for the agency to work out a few details along the way.
- The order may have been most anticipated by telecom lawyers (T, VZ), who may be preparing their lawsuits for just over 60 days from now.
- Notable news is that the agency doesn't just plan some forbearance on Title II regulation (involving treating Internet carriers as a public utility), but vast forbearance, in what seems an industry-friendly move; the focus from here may be on the details of just how much is actually "vast."
- Interconnection (governing traffic exchange agreements; key to NFLX) and sponsored data programs are subject to case-by-case review rather than the bright-line rules -- suggesting a light hand from the agency on such deals, for now.
- Industry reaction from NCTA (Cableco trade group): "Confirms our fear that the Commission has ... instituted a regulatory regime change for the Internet that will lead to years of litigation, serious collateral consequences for consumer, and ongoing market uncertainty."
- AT&T (NYSE:T): "Ultimately, though, we are confident the issue will be resolved by bipartisan action by Congress or a future FCC, or by the courts."
- Netflix: "The FCC’s order is a step toward ensuring Americans get the Internet access they pay for and content providers like us have recourse from broadband monopolists demanding what the FCC called 'unfair tolls.' "
- Also: the FCC's municipal broadband preemption order
Wed, Mar. 11, 8:34 PM
- Digitalsmiths -- the data research company owned by TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) -- has a white paper out suggesting that 1.5M Americans plan to cut the cord and ditch their pay television service, while another 38.1M are dissatisfied -- two-thirds of those because of the cost.
- The report -- based on its sample of more than 3,000 subscribers -- says 8.9% switched pay-TV providers in the prior three months, up 2.1% Y/Y.
- Another interesting number: 78.7% of respondents watch 10 channels or fewer -- which has to make future cord-cutters wonder what they're really paying for.
- While the report is largely bad news for pay TV, parent company TiVo is marketing devices both for cord-cutters and for its pay-TV partners. And 20.4% of survey takers recently upped the level of their pay service. (hat tip: FierceCable)
- Pay TV stocks today: CMCSA -1.1%; TWC -0.5%; CVC -1%; CHTR +0.7%; T -0.5%; VZ +0.4%.
Wed, Mar. 11, 12:51 PM
- DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) is up 2.3% as Verizon (NYSE:VZ) seals a deal to add 200 hours of original video content to its upcoming video service from DWA's AwesomenessTV and DreamWorksTV, targeting teens and young millennials with over-the-top video.
- The programming will include scripted and unscripted series as well as DreamWorks original characters.
- AwesomenessTV, acquired by DreamWorks in 2013, features 7B views and 112M subscribers.
- The deal will take some pressure off what some, like BTIG's Richard Greenfield, see as a heavy dependence on Netflix.
Tue, Mar. 10, 10:21 AM
- The price war may have "calmed a bit," says Verizon (VZ -0.7%) CFO Fran Shammo, but the company still expects wireless cancellations to increase in the first quarter.
- Speaking to the Deutsche Bank conference, Shammo says the industry really heated up last year, with 90 price moves compared to about 20 the prior year. Retail postpaid churn jumped to 1.14% in Q4.
- Shammo sees more of the same this quarter but says the company isn't concerned.
- And more in transition: Along with Dan Mead's planned retirement after he directs the wireline asset sale to Frontier Communications, Shammo announced the retirement of Verizon's chief technology officer, Tony Melone.
- Previously: Carriage dispute drops Weather Channel from Verizon FiOS (Mar. 10 2015)
Tue, Mar. 10, 9:04 AM
- The Weather Channel went dark on Verizon (NYSE:VZ) FiOS stations today as carriage agreements expired without renewal. Verizon has placed AccuWeather Network content on the stations where TWC lived.
- It's not the first showdown for the Weather Channel, owned in part by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX). A year ago the channel took a few months' hiatus from DirecTV over a carriage fee dispute and returned thanks to Hilton Hotels' insistence.
- The channel has a bit of weight to throw around -- it's tops on the Nielsen list of national networks, with 97.1M subscribers.
- Verizon shares are down 0.7% premarket.
Fri, Mar. 6, 1:03 PM
Mon, Mar. 2, 3:12 PM
- At Mobile World Congress, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) confirms its plans to offer wireless phone service "in the coming months" -- a small MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator, where it would offer branded services by piggybacking on a partner's network.
- The company says its entry will be modest and designed to showcase technological innovation, similar to what it does with its Nexus branded hardware, made by partners. But in a hotly competitive market, it could take share and have an impact on whichever competitors it doesn't align with (T, VZ, TMUS, S).
- Google hasn't named whose network it would ride on, but it has service-reseller deals with Sprint and T-Mobile.
- Besides its direct impact on the fortunes of competitors, which might be small, Google's move might spur innovation from them if it moves on a vision of better wireless connectivity.
- This afternoon: GOOG +2%.
Fri, Feb. 27, 6:37 PM
- Fresh off their vote for re-regulation of Internet transmissions, the five FCC commissioners will be spending mid-March on Capitol Hill answering to the GOP Congress.
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding its hearing March 19, a day after the members are scheduled with the Senate Commerce Committee.
- The chairmen of the two committees, Greg Walden and John Thune, are backing a bill that would reverse the FCC's Title II reclassification (treating Internet providers more like utilities) and substantively narrow its approach to ensuring net neutrality.
- Following the 3-2 vote, major carriers indicated their strategy would be twofold: Lawsuits (CMCSA, T, VZ, CHTR worried about "years" of litigation); and legislative action to undo the move, with a cooperative congress apparently ready to act.
- Other related stocks: CVC, TWC, CTL, FTR, ELNK, DISH, DTV, CCOI
Fri, Feb. 27, 4:45 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has joined peers, including AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), in complaining to the FCC that Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) distorted the results of the FCC's AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction with its bidding tactics.
- Verizon ran its own analysis of the data and concluded close coordination between Dish and its designated entities ((DEs)) that Verizon says created a false sense of demand and drove the price above market value.
- For its part, Dish has been on the record about disclosing and gaining approval for its actions ahead of the auction, though the resulting total bids came in over even the high estimates.
- Major players have been jockeying for position with the FCC ahead of a likely even more important low-band auction next year.
- More on the FCC auction
- Previously: AT&T: Dish's auction approach skewed results, needs restriction (Feb. 20 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile's Legere calls for spectrum-auction rule changes (Feb. 18 2015)
Thu, Feb. 26, 9:09 PM
- Reactions to the FCC's landmark net neutrality vote from the telecom industry were unsurprisingly negative -- though perhaps surprisingly vintage in a few cases.
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) says the move is "certain to lead to years of litigation" and that it doesn't believe provisions "adopted when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president should be stretched to govern the 21st century Internet."
- AT&T (NYSE:T) -- who had already threatened certain litigation -- is no stranger to weighing in on its policy blog, where today it feared "revisiting the decision, over and over and over": "Instead of a clear set of rules moving forward, with a broad set of agreement behind them, we once again face the uncertainty of litigation, and the very real potential of having to start over – again – in the future."
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- which hastily issued a manually "typewritten" release dated 1934 -- doubled down on their blog with a statement in Morse code.
- Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) expects the action will "add fees to customer bills, create regulatory uncertainty and lead to years of litigation."
- Several parties are noting the same key issue: We haven't read the order yet. The details of the document, when they come, are likely only to set off a new round of pointed reactions.
- More reactions, including the positive side
- Previously: Facing new broadband era after FCC vote, related stocks stable for now (Feb. 26 2015)
Thu, Feb. 26, 1:39 PM
- In the wake of the FCC's new regulations, key telecom and Internet stocks are tracking mostly where they were prior to the vote -- in part due to the fact that the vote's likely outcome was baked in, but also because details (including any late changes) are yet to be published.
- The FCC majority must review and respond to the dissenters before publishing the result, which they will provide on the Web when it's ready.
- Key stocks largely unchanged from the morning: Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%), Time Warner Cable (TWC -1.9%), Cablevision (CVC +1.3%), Charter (CHTR -1%), Centurylink (CTL +0.4%), Frontier (FTR +0.9%), Cogent (CCOI -1%).
- AT&T (T +0.9%); Verizon (VZ +0.4%); Dish Network (DISH -0.6%); DirecTV (DTV +0.1%).
- Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) -- whose traffic is such that the regulatory difference in its delivery costs may mean as much as $100M/year -- is up 1.6%. Interconnection fees may yet need some clarification.
- For its part, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) uses its old-fashioned typewriter to put out a press release for "Feb. 26, 1934" warning that rules "written in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph" won't work today.
- Speaking of Verizon: Next up will be lawsuits. Courts invalidated the FCC's last two attempts at net neutrality, most recently in January 2014.
- Wheeler statement on vote
- Previously: Report: AT&T, Verizon will sue FCC immediately after reclassification (Feb. 04 2015)
Thu, Feb. 26, 1:01 PM
- The FCC approves tough net neutrality restrictions on the Internet -- reclassifying broadband services under Title II of the Telecommunications Act -- on a party-line vote of 3-2.
- Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly opposed the measure.
- To open applause, Chairman Tom Wheeler said the action is an "irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one -- whether government or corporate -- should control free and open access to the Internet."
- Pai thinks the result of reclassification will be even less competition, and calls the rules a "Kingsbury Commitment for the digital age ... If you loved Ma Bell in the 20th century, you will love Pa Broadband in the 21st."
- Prior to the key net neutrality vote, the commission voted along the same party lines to pre-empt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that put restrictions on municipal broadband initiatives.
- Related stocks: CMCSA, CVC, TWC, CTL, CHTR, FTR, T, VZ, NFLX, ELNK, DISH, DTV, CCOI
- Previously: FCC begins convening for historic net neutrality vote (Feb. 26 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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