FCC puts brakes on Qualcomm spectrum acquisition, will review with T-Mobile merger

By on August 10, 2011 at 7:04 AM.

FCC puts brakes on Qualcomm spectrum acquisition, will review with T-Mobile merger

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday that it will review AT&T’s planned $1.925 billion acquisition of Qualcomm’s FLO TV lower 700MHz frequency band at the same time that it reviews the carrier’s T-Mobile USA merger. AT&T announced its intentions to buy spectrum from Qualcomm in December of last year and said it planned to deploy the spectrum as “supplemental downlink” while it built out its 4G network. That acquisition was originally expected to close during the second half of this year, but the FCC clearly has some concerns on the matter. AT&T said the FCC and Department of Justice are on schedule to approve the T-Mobile deal in March 2012, however this could be a ding to AT&T’s 4G network plans if it was relying on having the Qualcomm deal approved by now. The FCC’s statement follows below. More →

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Sprint announces deal to adopt 4G LTE

By on July 28, 2011 at 7:01 AM.

Sprint announces deal to adopt 4G LTE

Sprint on Thursday announced that it has inked a deal with LightSquared will see 4G LTE services built out on its massive nationwide network. LightSquared will pay Sprint $9 billion over 15 years for the right to build out its LTE network using Sprint infrastructure, and Sprint will also get a total of $4.5 billion in credits toward LTE and satellite service. Equally important to the nation’s No. 3 carrier, the deal will allow it to save about $13 billion in network build-out costs and cover 260 million Americans with its 4G LTE service by 2015. “This spectrum hosting agreement with LightSquared allows Sprint to more efficiently use its Network Vision platform,” said Steve Elfman, Sprint’s president of Network Operations and Wholesale, in a statement. “In addition to improving our cash flow, it provides additional options and flexibility in how we meet our customers’ future capacity needs.” The new deal is hardly unexpected, but it looks like those Network Vision boxes will come in handy sooner than some might have expected. Sprint’s full press release follows below. More →

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Verizon says its 4G phones won’t be compatible with AT&T’s LTE network

By on July 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM.

Verizon says its 4G phones won’t be compatible with AT&T’s LTE network

If you’re looking forward to the possibility of flip-flopping your smartphone’s SIM card between a Verizon Wireless 4G phone and an AT&T 4G phone, we have some bad news for you. Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney confirmed to PCMag on Friday that the carrier’s 4G LTE phones will not be compatible with AT&T’s 4G LTE network because the phones “run on different frequencies.” PCMag explained that while the two carriers operate within the 700MHz frequency band, AT&T will operate mostly within the 704-746MHz bands while Verizon’s 4G LTE will utilize the 746-787MHz frequencies. Additionally, Verizon still routes its voice calls over its 2G/3G CDMA network while AT&T uses GSM/HSPA. That means, until both networks are fully utilizing voice-over-LTE, it just won’t work. Sascha Segan, the article’s author, notes that it is possible for phone vendors to create devices that operate with the frequencies used by both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, but it would likely require the carriers to ink out some sort of agreement first.  More →

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When will Verizon’s blistering 4G LTE slow down?

By on June 28, 2011 at 1:15 PM.

When will Verizon’s blistering 4G LTE slow down?

Let’s face it… not all 4G is created equal. When Verizon Wireless’ LTE launched in its first few markets last year, bloggers and media saw blazing fast data speeds in their tests that put other 4G networks to shame. So did we. In fact, on numerous occasions and in numerous device reviews, we called Verizon’s LTE the fastest cellular data service we had ever tested. But a common sentiment rang throughout the Internet: Verizon’s 4G LTE is fast now, but that’s because the network is empty. And Verizon Wireless’ competition mirrored the opinion, of course. In a private conversation about the discrepancy in performance between Sprint’s 4G WiMAX and Verizon’s 4G LTE, a Sprint executive told me that Verizon’s network was so fast because it was empty. “Wait until it fills up,” the exec chuckled. “Then we’ll see if the ThunderBolt still deserves its name.”
(continued below) More →

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T-Mobile responds to Sprint, other merger opponents

By on June 21, 2011 at 4:36 PM.

T-Mobile responds to Sprint, other merger opponents

In what is no doubt a response to Sprint’s statement Tuesday morning that AT&T is increasing its spectrum the wrong way by purchasing T-Mobile, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of government affairs, Tom Sugure, has issued a formal statement to those who oppose the acquisition. “The opponents of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger have had their final say as part of the FCC’s formal pleading cycle and, not surprisingly, they have failed to offer any credible arguments to support their view that the Commission should deny the transaction,” Sugrue said in the statement. Sprint, which has lashed back at the acquisition from the get-go has said the purchase will stifle innovation. “What is surprising, however, is their repeated head-in-the-sand insistence that no spectrum crisis exists,” Sugrue added. “As part of their application, AT&T and T-Mobile provided a compelling showing of their need for more spectrum to continue to provide quality service to customers and roll out new technologies in the future. And the two companies have demonstrated that a combination of their networks and spectrum holdings is by far the best way to solve this problem and ensure improved service and enhanced innovation. The FCC has long acknowledged the harmful consequences of ignoring the spectrum crunch, and we are confident it will approve our proposed market-based solution.”

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Sprint to AT&T: You’re doing it wrong

By on June 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM.

Sprint to AT&T: You’re doing it wrong

Following the lead set by its chief executive Dan Hesse, Sprint has been one of the most outspoken opponents of AT&T’s proposed $39 billion T-Mobile USA takeover. Hesse said the deal would “stifle innovation” and hurt U.S. wireless subscribers, and Sprint subsequently voiced its concerns formally on numerous occasions. Among AT&T’s main arguments are the deal’s potential to bring high-speed 4G LTE coverage to over 95% of the U.S. population, and the fact that it needs T-Mobile’s spectrum in order to curtail the massive strain on its network. In a new filing with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, however, Sprint explained that AT&T’s acquisition is not necessary in order for the carrier to alleviate its network woes. Sprint contends that AT&T could increase its network capacity by more than 600% over the next three years simply by putting its current resources to better use. “AT&T could increase its capacity by developing its warehoused spectrum, accelerating its 4G network buildout, and implementing a more efficient network architecture,” Sprint said in a statement. But AT&T responded immediately by questioning Sprint’s knowledge on the subject considering the carrier outsources the management of its own network to Ericsson. “A company that has outsourced the management of its own network shouldn’t be giving advice to others,” an AT&T spokesman said. More →

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Sprint formally asks FCC to block AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition

By on June 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM.

Sprint formally asks FCC to block AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition

Sprint’s already been very vocal about its opposition to AT&T’s planned purchase of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom, but on Tuesday the carrier officially asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and block the purchase. In its 377-page filing, Sprint argued that the acquisition would make AT&T the nation’s largest carrier with a total of 118 million subscribers and a 43% grip on the postpaid market. The carrier added that Verizon and AT&T would earn 78% of all wireless revenues and the “Twin Bell” duopoly would have an 82% grasp of the postpaid market, making it difficult for other carriers such as Sprint to compete. AT&T, meanwhile, has argued that the acquisition will create jobs, will not stifle competition, and will help deliver high-speed wireless broadband to 97% of U.S. residents. More →

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Sprint could add new business as a result of AT&T / T-Mobile deal, analyst believes

By on May 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM.

Sprint could add new business as a result of AT&T / T-Mobile deal, analyst believes

Sprint is openly opposed to AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, but the scrappy carrier stands to benefit from the deal according to Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen. Larsen on Friday lifted his rating on Sprint stock from neutral to overweight, while also upping his price target from $5 to $6.50. The analyst sees brighter days ahead for the carrier through the rest of 2011 and 2012 as well, and he also believes the AT&T / T-Mobile deal could be a good thing for Sprint. Larsen thinks the merger could cause some subscribers to leave the new mega-carrier and flee to Sprint. Beyond that, AT&T may be required to divest some markets in order for the deal to be approved, and Sprint may very well pick up that business or even some of AT&T’s spectrum if it is forced to let some go. Finally, the analyst also believes a post-merger market would be less prone to aggressive price cutting, which would certainly help Sprint maintain a competitive advantage. More →

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Deutsche Telekom confirms $6 billion prenuptial agreement with AT&T

By on May 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM.

Deutsche Telekom confirms $6 billion prenuptial agreement with AT&T

It’s more like a pre-prenuptial agreement, but you get the idea. T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telecom, has confirmed that it stands to receive a $6 billion settlement from AT&T should the companies’ proposed merger fall through. According to DT, a $3 billion cash payment would be made along with additional spectrum and a national roaming agreement. While the exact valuation of the spectrum and roaming agreement was not disclosed, Reuters appraises the two intangibles at close to $3 billion. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice are all scrutinizing the proposed deal, which would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the United States. There are sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way, but once thing is certain: a large sum of money is going to be debited from AT&T’s coffers no matter the regulatory outcome. More →

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AT&T CEO: T-Mobile acquisition will immediately improve reliability

By on March 30, 2011 at 5:52 PM.

AT&T CEO: T-Mobile acquisition will immediately improve reliability

AT&T was noticeably silent about its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile during the CTIA Wireless 2011 tradeshow last week, but on Wednesday the company’s CEO, Randall L. Stephenson, took some time to discuss potential public benefits of the purchase. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Stephenson argued that by purchasing T-Mobile, AT&T will increase capacity by 30% immediately while simultaneously increasing network reliability. AT&T predicts that network traffic could grow 5-8 times from where it is today over the next 5 years, and that kind of growth would require more spectrum capacity than is currently available. According to PCMag, Stephenson also said that the purchase would allow AT&T to cover 95% of the United States with a 4G network. When asked whether the purchase would create a AT&T/Verizon Wireless duopoly, Stephenson pointed to major markets where there are often five or more carriers to choose from, such as New York. That doesn’t include wholesale retailers such as Clearwire or LightSquared, both of which have signed on to sell Best Buy Connect branded 4G networks. Similarly, Stephenson stated that in Detroit, San Francisco, and in Miami, among other places, T-Mobile isn’t considered the No. 4 carrier. That kind of competition, Stephenson believes, will push prices down for consumers. Stephenson admitted that the acquisition could result in some job losses as the two companies integrate, but believes that the end result will be a “net job grower.” More →

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FCC official: ‘No way chairman’s office rubber stamps’ AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition

By on March 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM.

FCC official: ‘No way chairman’s office rubber stamps’ AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, an anonymous Federal Communications Commission official said “there’s no way the chairman’s office [will] rubber-stamp” AT&T’s $39 billion acquisition of Deutsche Telecom-owned T-Mobile USA, and that the approval process will be “a steep climb at least.” The FCC official went on to say that the FCC has not even started to evaluate the deal and that it will be scrutinized and denied or accepted based on whether or not it will be in the best interest of consumers. Similar deals have been doubted before, though, and the WSJ points to the merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite radio, which FCC chairman Kevin Martin said would be a high hurdle to approve back in 2007. Current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Tuesday during his speech at the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show, which we live blogged, that “healthy competition produces greater innovation and investment, lower prices, and better service.” AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile is seen as likely decreasing the amount of competition in the U.S. wireless market, with just three major carriers competing for customers. But Genachowski has yet to comment on the acquisition proposal. As we said in an earlier editorial, T-Mobile customers could come out on top with this deal — if it ends up being approved. More →

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In proposed merger with AT&T, T-Mobile customers win

By on March 21, 2011 at 11:20 AM.

In proposed merger with AT&T, T-Mobile customers win

While AT&T customers can clearly see the benefits of a merger with T-Mobile, customers of the company being acquired are having a difficult time seeing what’s in it for them. What will happen to T-Mobile’s current data plan offerings? Will handset releases slow down? How will this effect my monthly bill? The questions are plentiful and, unfortunately, many of them are unanswered at this point. Yet while the questions outnumber the answers, there is one thing I’m pretty certain of: whether this deal goes through or not, T-Mobile customers are going to benefit. More →

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AT&T intends to use T-Mobile’s AWS spectrum for LTE

By on March 21, 2011 at 9:24 AM.

AT&T intends to use T-Mobile’s AWS spectrum for LTE

On a call with investors Monday morning, AT&T confirmed its plans to use the AWS spectrum gained in the potential T-Mobile acquisition for its 4G LTE network. Following the carrier’s announcement on Friday that it will acquire T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom pending regulatory approval, AT&T on Monday revealed one of many factors that motivated it to offer $39 billion for the nation’s No. 4 cellular carrier: spectrum. According to the roadmap pictured above, AT&T will free up T-Mobile’s 1700MHz AWS spectrum by migrating T-Mobile subscribers off the frequency. The carrier then plans to pair its 700MHz spectrum with T-Mobile’s newly-cleared AWS to cover 95% of the U.S. population with 4G LTE service. We know how important 4G is to carriers right now, so the move will potentially give AT&T a huge bump in the race against Verizon Wireless, which has already deployed LTE service in several markets.

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