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.
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)
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)
Tue, Sep. 8, 9:17 PM
- Verizon's (VZ +2.4%) Go90 app is rolling out in beta, promising hours of free video content to users no matter their wireless subscriber -- and also stoking hopes of getting subscribers hooked on still-expensive mobile data.
- Video streaming in 4G takes up about 350 MB/hour, which would eat up the allotment in Verizon's smallest plan (1 GB) in no time.
- A successful launch will also mean a chance to sell millennial-focused advertising, though the service will not use ad-tech from AOL (at least, not yet; the AOL purchase was considered a key part of any upcoming video service).
- Verizon has no plans to offer a subscription-based Go90, though it may grow from being only a mobile app to TV-connected platforms.
- Previously: Verizon announces ambitious 5G timetable; to start field tests next year (Sep. 08 2015)
Thu, Sep. 3, 9:15 AM
- Less than two months after TechCrunch reported a deal could happen, Verizon-owned (NYSE:VZ) AOL has announced it's acquiring mobile ad network owner Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) for $1.75/share, or $248M. The price represents a 30.6% premium to Millennial's Wednesday close, but is still well below a 52-week high of $2.40, and over 90% below Millennial's 2012 highs.
- The deal expands AOL's supply-side (publisher-facing) mobile ad footprint, including within international markets. Millennial claims over 65K apps are on its platform, and that it has over 800M "proprietary, anonymous user profiles" for ad targeting. It follows AOL's display ad deal with Microsoft, and comes ahead of the launch of Verizon's Go90 mobile video service.
- For Millennial, the deal provides an exit for a company that has been losing mobile ad share to the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter. It's expected to close this fall.
- MM +30% to $1.74.
Wed, Sep. 2, 6:05 PM
- The FCC has approved Frontier Communications' (FTR +3%) $10.54B purchase of wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas from Verizon (VZ +1.1%).
- The deal, which Verizon undertook in the wake of its $10.4B in bids in the AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, had previously received approval from the Dept. of Justice.
- It still needs approval from public utilities commissions in California and Texas, though the key hurdles are behind it. The companies expect to close the transaction at the end of Q1 2016.
- Frontier focused on the broadband offerings it could bring: "By doubling our size, we will add scale and scope to our operations, strengthen our product and service offerings, and improve the customer experience," said Frontier CEO Daniel McCarthy. "Our goal is to deliver the life-changing benefits of broadband to an additional 750,000 households at speeds of 25Mbps/2-3Mbps across the entire Frontier multi-state footprint, including California, Florida and Texas, by the end of 2020."
Mon, Aug. 24, 11:38 AM
- BT Group's (BT -4%) Americas president has charged Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) with hurting competitors by abusing landline monopolies, and called for tough regulations to force access to the networks.
- The UK telecom serves hundreds of customers in the U.S. but pays to reach the "special access network" -- the portion that goes the last mile into homes and offices -- of which Verizon and AT&T control about 80%.
- The FCC requested data from telecoms on the special access networks last year. BT's Bas Burger points to research suggesting the top two U.S. telecoms are overcharging for that access by about $9B/year.
- Burger is calling for regulated prices there. “For a western world country it is the worst I’ve seen."
- “There is not sufficient regulation to create competition," he says; "almost all access is being provided by two companies and they have divided the country among themselves.”
Mon, Aug. 17, 4:53 PM
- Another brick falls from the contract-wireless wall, as Sprint (S +10.1%) CEO Marcelo Claure tells The Wall Street Journal that the carrier will do away with contracts and shift to a leased-smartphone model by year's end.
- Sprint introduced a lease option last year, and ending its subsidies means that leasing or upfront purchase will be the only ways to get a smartphone from the carrier.
- The move leaves AT&T (T +0.5%) as the only carrier of the U.S. big four that is still offering to subsidize a smartphone buy. Verizon (VZ +0.1%) made its major move earlier this month, and all are following in T-Mobile's (TMUS +1.9%) footsteps on dropping contracts.
- Earlier, Sprint rolled out its "iPhone Forever" plan that served as a precursor to the model: For $22/month over and above the usual monthly fees, customers can upgrade to the latest iPhone as soon as it becomes available, rather than once every two years. Claure says parent SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY -1%) will help it monetize traded-in phones.
Thu, Aug. 6, 12:07 PM
- In a unanimous vote, the FCC denied T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) request for a larger spectrum set-aside during the government's wireless airwaves auction next year.
- The carrier -- now the third-largest by customers in the U.S. -- had lobbied for a larger chunk of spectrum to be set aside for smaller carriers (i.e., not AT&T and Verizon) in the low-band auction, an area of the spectrum that the two giants dominate.
- There will be a set-aside, just not the 40 MHz that T-Mobile was seeking, in what is seen as a compromise by the FCC's Democrats after last year's vote to establish reserve spectrum.
- The FCC is working to keep the auction on track for the first quarter, and it's currently expected March 29. The agency is finalizing bidding procedures.
- Wireless Carriers today: T -1.3%; VZ -0.5%; TMUS -0.5%; S +2.4%.
Wed, Aug. 5, 10:56 AM
- On the Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said the company has made a deal with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to supply its video service with "long and short-form content" -- full episodes of prior seasons, and clips of current series.
- "This deal extends our platform reach to Verizon customers beyond our traditional pay TV customer base, and adds yet another source to our distribution revenue stream," he said.
- The agreement will include content from channels including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, ID, and the Science Channel, Zaslav noted.
- After trading up premarket following its Q2 earnings beat, Discovery shares are now 5.6% lower.
- Previously: Discovery up 0.4% after Q2 beat amid currency challenges (Aug. 05 2015)
- Previously: Discovery Communications beats by $0.01, misses on revenue (Aug. 05 2015)
Mon, Aug. 3, 6:25 PM
- ProShares is shuttering its UltraShort Telecommunications ETF (TLL -5.7%), the fund that bets against big telecoms like AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), due to lack of interest.
- The fund -- a double-short fund working on the inverse of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Telecommunications Index -- will close after the market on Sept. 14. Trading had slowed to about 100 shares on average.
- Top components of Dow Jones' telecom index that the fund bet against are AT&T, Verizon, SBA Communications (NASDAQ:SBAC), Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), Frontier (NASDAQ:FTR) and Sprint (NYSE:S).
- TLL was down 7.6% over the past six months. The iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF (NYSEARCA:IYZ) -- tracking the same index from the other direction -- is down 0.5% YTD.
VZ vs. ETF Alternatives
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.
Other News & PR