AT&T to cut 2G networks by 2017

Falling in line with Sprint’s recent decision to shut down their 2G iDEN networks, AT&T has announced plans to cut their 2G GSM/EDGE networks within the next five years. The move is certainly an attempt to free up more spectrum for other technologies, as the 850/1900 bands that AT&T’s GSM networks operate on could also support current 850/1900 HSPA or even future LTE implementations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 12% of AT&T Mobility’s customer base or 8.4 million people currently use 2G handsets, which the mobile giant will be trying to transition to 3G/LTE devices in the coming years. While AT&T has yet to announce a concrete strategy for what they’ll do to incentivize 2G users to stay on, the size of that segment seems big enough to necessitate something good.

Source: Wall Street Journal | Image: NontrivialMatt (Flickr)

Nokia Lumia 900 hits AT&T on April 8 for $99

Nokia Lumia 900

The fruits of the Microsoft and Nokia’s partnership is finally coming to the US. Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone 7 handset, the Lumia 900, finally has a date and price for its debut on AT&T.

The Nokia Lumia 900 will hit for $99 on 2-year contract on April 8. This is a very aggressive price for a flagship device that has received a fair amount of critical praise for it’s hardware design.

Here’s the quick specs rundown for the Lumia 900:

  • 4.3 inch display
  • LTE 4G wireless
  • 1.4GHz single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8MP rear-facing camera

The Lumia 900 will debut in Cyan Blue and Black Matte, and a glossy white version will be available on April 22.

Source: Cnet

AT&T upgrade fee doubling to $36 on February 12

AT&T sure knows how to ingratiate its already largely frustrated customer base. Following a recent earnings call announcing a highly successful quarter, AT&T has announced that it is taking a cue out of Sprint’s playbook and will be upping handset upgrade fees to $36 on February 12.

Handsets being “more sophisticated than ever before,” and the fact that this is not unique to AT&T, are being used as scapegoats for this price increase. These facts are not debatable, but it’s still a rough pill to swallow for a service that already doesn’t deliver up to many people’s expectations.

Source: Engadget

Samsung Galaxy Note to launch February 19 on AT&T

AT&T has just announced via their consumer blog that the Samsung Galaxy Note is set to launch on February 19, 2012. The phone is particularly worth noting due to its unique form factor, namely a 5.3″ Super AMOLED screen at 1280×800 resolution. While that size may be unwieldy to some, the resulting pixel density (285 ppi) and larger surface area seemingly allows the Note to bridge the gap between phone and tablet. In fact, it includes a built-in inductive stylus called the “S Pen” that promotes notetaking, drawings, and pen-based gestures.

Preorders begin on February 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note will retail at $299 with a two-year contract. Check out the above promotional video that was shared along with the sourced press release.

Source: AT&T | Via: BGR

AT&T reconfigures data plan pricing scheme

Due to an ever-increasing demand for data on smartphones, AT&T is introducing a new set of data plan capacities and prices. In essence, both have been slightly bumped from the previous status quo, which was $15 for 200mb, $25 for 2gb, and $45 for 4GB + tethering. For a somewhat small increase of $5 per tier, AT&T will be increasing caps to 300MB, 3GB, and 5GB. Of course, current customers will retain their current rates of subscription (even the ancient unlimited plans) unless they voluntarily choose to switch over to these new rates. Also, tablet owners will have access to the latter tiers at the same prices in addition to the special tablet-only 250MB plan at $15.

Source: AT&T

AT&T divestiture plan with T-Mobile looking grim, says WSJ

It appears that “Plan B” might not even work for AT&T and T-Mobile. The 9-month long struggle to merge these telecommunications giants may finally be coming to an end in its current state, as the Wall Street Journal reports that third-party interest in T-Mobile divestitures has run cold in the last month. AT&T was rumored to be planning a division of T-Mo’s assets (customers, spectrum) in order to create a new 4th player in the market behind itself, Verizon, and Sprint. Unfortunately, with nobody apparently looking to acquire those assets they’ll have no new leverage to promise continued competition in the market.

With that plan failing, the whole idea of a merger may not be in the cards at all. The only remaining resolution to this issue is AT&T paying the $4 billion breakup fee to Deutsche Telekom and perusing a partnership with that parent company or a partial takeover. However, with DT obviously looking for anybody to take T-Mobile USA off their hands just as much as AT&T wants to build out its LTE network, that deal could possibly end up going to another partner like Dish or Sprint.

Update: AT&T has since announced that they’re dropping plans for the merger. They will now have to pay the breakup fee of $4 billion as well as work out a roaming agreement with T-Mobile for greater interoperability between the two’s collections of wireless bands. For a full report including AT&T’s public statement, follow up on The Verge.

Source: Wall Street Journal | Via: The Verge | Image: Reuters

Dish Network proposes T-Mobile partnership if AT&T merger fails

Dish Network has made some major moves in an increasingly progressive video content market with their Blockbuster-based streaming/mail service and their exclusivity on certain Fox television shows on Hulu for 8 days after airing. Clearly they have some greater ambitions, as CEO Joseph Clayton recently shared an interest in T-Mobile with Bloomburg. Apparently, they have interest in partnering up with the number four wireless carrier if their deal with AT&T falls through, which could allow them to share spectrum (Dish has some stockpiled which could be used for LTE or more HSPA+) and customers (with TV + Phone bundles).

This is in no way a formal offer, evidenced by the fact that Clayton suggested that they could even go with a company like Sprint/Clearwire or pick up divested spectrum if the AT&T/T-Mobile merger does go through. Either way, Dish Network has plenty of room to grow and seem to be taking a page out of Verizon’s playbook in cross-media investment.

Source: Bloomberg

AT&T/T-Mobile merger strategy shifts to risky Plan B

The final chapter in the AT&T/T-Mobile merger seems to have finally arrived; after the disapproval of both the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, AT&T withdrew their application from the FCC to supposedly negotiate drastic measures. Early rumors from Bloomburg suggested that AT&T is now willing to divest up to 40% of T-Mobile’s assets (customers, spectrum) to let the deal go through. The New York Times has brought that rumor to the next level with word that AT&T was now talking directly to Leap Wireless, a small no-contact company with about seven million customers that operates Cricket and Jump Mobile.

Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYT went on to say that this strategy is as big a ‘Hail Mary’ pass as the original proposal to merge with T-Mobile, as AT&T’s 100 million customers and T-Mobile’s 33 million customers make Leap Wireless look like a start-up. Even with the divested assets, Leap would barely be able to compete with Sprint and MetroPCS, let alone apply any price pressure to the duopoly that is currently (and would be after this merger) Verizon and AT&T. Needless to say, these rumors mark the end of this saga either way – AT&T won’t see another chance after this one, likely choosing to save face and fully withdraw if the DOJ shuts this latest offer down.

Source: New York Times

AT&T 4G LTE is now live

Yesterday, AT&T finally delivered on their long teased 4G rollout; this time 4G means LTE, not the piddly HSPA+ that they’ve been trying to tout as much faster than 3G. In more precise terms, HSPA+ currently offers about 28 Mbit/s downstream and LTE offers 100 Mbit/s downstream, meaning download speed (including page loading, video stream quality, etc) under the latter service is 3-4 times faster.

Verizon launched their LTE service last December, scaling their coverage to 143 markets currently and a projected 175 markets by the year’s end. To compare, AT&T launched the service in a grand total of five markets (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio), with a projected 15 markets by the year’s end. It’s clear enough from these numbers that Verizon has a massive head start on AT&T as far as LTE goes, both in coverage and devices.

AT&T’s initial offering of devices compatible with LTE is fairly barebones at this point, lacking a single smartphone to fill out the list. Instead, the recently released HTC Jetstream ($700 with 2-year contract) tablet is the only mobile device to support true 4G, which will cost $15 per month for 250MB of data and $30 for 2GB. In addition, the USBConnect Momentum 4G, Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G, and USBConnect Adrenaline will all deliver LTE tethering at $50 per month for 5GB.

Source: AT&T | Via: MobileBurn, Business Insider

DOJ seeks to block AT&T/T-Mobile merger

In a stunning move that’s sure to be just another chapter in the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, the Department of Justice has decided to file an antitrust complaint with the FCC. Citing “higher prices, fewer choices, and lower quality products” for consumers, the DOJ hopes to block the merger pending likely appeals from both AT&T and Deutsche Telekom. If the block does go through, At&T will also have to pay about $3 billion in both capital and roaming access, which means T-Mobile might end up looking a lot more appealing to consumers as a separate entity in the short term.

As always, each of the parties in this lawsuit have released public statements reaffirming their positions and all promising to make this just a stepping stone to their eventual ends -

AT&T

We are surprised and disappointed by today’s action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated.

We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed. The DOJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.

At the end of the day, we believe facts will guide any final decision and the facts are clear. This merger will:

·         Help solve our nation’s spectrum exhaust situation and improve wireless service for millions.

·         Allow AT&T to expand 4G mobile broadband to another 55 million Americans, or 97% of the population;

·         Result in billions of additional investment and tens of thousands of jobs, at a time when our nation needs them most.

We remain confident that this merger is in the best interest of consumers and our country, and the facts will prevail in court.

Deutsche Telekom

On August 31, 2011, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) informed Deutsche Telekom that it will file a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a permanent injunction blocking the proposed stock purchase agreement between AT&T and Deutsche Telekom under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom is very disappointed by the DOJ’s action, and will join AT&T in defending the contemplated merger against the complaint in court. DOJ failed to acknowledge the robust competition in the U.S. wireless telecommunications industry and the tremendous efficiencies associated with the proposed transaction, which would lead to significant customer, shareholder, and public benefits. We appreciate the DOJ’s willingness to discuss possible remedies to address the competitive concerns.

FCC’s Julias Genachowski

By filing suit today, the Department of Justice has concluded that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would substantially lessen competition in violation of the antitrust laws. Competition is an essential component of the FCC’s statutory public interest analysis, and although our process is not complete, the record before this agency also raises serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition. Vibrant competition in wireless services is vital to innovation, investment, economic growth and job creation, and to drive our global leadership in mobile.  Competition fosters consumer benefits, including more choices, better service and lower prices.

For more information on this case, check out Nilay Patel’s analysis at the via link and the full Department of Justice filing at the source.

Source: DOJ filing | Via: This is my next