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

Nokia Lumia 710 to launch on T-Mobile in the US

The Nokia Lumia 800 has come and gone in the UK, marking the first flagship/halo device to come out of Nokia running Windows Phone 7.5. The phone’s svelte design showed that WP7 could be just as appealing as iOS or Android, but the lack of full international release meant that this message couldn’t be carried across the pond.

It looks like the US might be thrown a bone after all, though not in the form of the Lumia 800. Instead, it looks like Americans will be getting the low-end counterpart to the 800, the Lumia 710. When both devices were announced, the 710 was revealed to have many of the same specs but with a lower-resolution camera (5MP as opposed to 8MP), cheap plastic casing (as opposed to metal-feeling polycarbonate), and swappable back cover in multiple colors.

T-Mobile Marketing Materials for Nokia Lumia 710

The rumor is that T-Mobile will be picking up the device, as suggested by multiple reports with the latest being a blurrycam shot of marketing materials pushing Lumia 710 accessories. With Nokia all but promising no Lumia 800 release in the US in favor of specially tailored devices to premiere at CES in January, Nokia fans should either hop onto this train or have a little more patience for about a month.

Source: The Verge | Image: Engadget

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

LG DoublePlay brings dual-screens and a split keyboard to T-Mobile

LG is bringing ancillary screens and physical keyboards back. The new LG DoublePlay is set to hit T-Mobile around National Texting Championship (sigh) on October 26.

The phone itself has a 3.5″ main display, and slides open to reveal a split physical keyboard with a 2″ screen in the middle. LG’s PR says that the secondary screen will allow users to perform multiple tasks at once like “updating their Facebook pages while simultaneously surfing the Web, texting or checking email.” It’s a novel idea that may make sense for some use cases.

Other features include standard inclusions expected in smartphones these days like Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 5MP rear-facing camera capable of 720P video capture, and a 1GHz Snapdragon processor. In addition, the 4G logo on the pictured screen suggests that the device will support T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 Mbps network.

Pricing has not been specific as of press time.

Source: Engadget

T-Mobile/Wal-Mart expected to launch $30 prepaid data plan today

Earlier this month, T-Mobile and Wal-Mart announced their plans to shake up the prepaid market – a $30 prepaid plan designed for data-hungry users. This plan will be sold exclusively in Wal-Mart stores and on the T-Mobile.com website, offering 100 voice minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited (5GB throttle-capped) “4G” data to the budget-minded. Additional talk time beyond the initial 100 minutes will be sold at 10 cents/minute and additional data beyond the 5GB cap will be throttled to 2G/EDGE speeds. T-Mobile’s “4G” isn’t quite up to snuff compared to LTE offered by the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and soon Sprint, but it does offer speeds of up to 42 mb/s downstream on T-Mobile 4G-branded devices.

Wal-Mart plans to stock five T-Mobile phones that can be used alongside this plan, but TmoNews confirmed that hopeful customers can simply receive a SIM card to place in any GSM phone (including off-contract versions of T-Mobile’s heavy hitters like the Sensation or Galaxy S II). This plan is set to hit today, though it cannot be confirmed at the time of this posting that the deal is live. Stay tuned for updates as the situation progresses.

Update: It appears that this new plan is only available to new subscribers, meaning that existing T-Mobile prepaid customers will need to switch to a new phone number/SIM card to receive the benefits of this plan. In addition to the $30 plan described above, T-Mobile has also added a $60 monthly prepaid plan with unlimited talk, text, and data (with a 2GB 4G cap) as well as pay by day plans ranging from $1 to $3 that grant up to 200MB 4G capped data at the greatest cost bracket.

Source: TmoNews

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

AT&T filing calls necessity of T-Mobile for LTE deployment into question

Last Thursday, AT&T unintentionally leaked a filing made with the FCC discussing in detail some of the finer points of their argument for merging with T-Mobile. While many of the statements easily viewed (though the document is lengthy) on this redacted version aren’t news, one particular point has fallen under scrutiny and led many to believe that AT&T’s intentions aren’t quite what they claim.

Slightly more context is necessary before this point has much gravity. In most of the arguments made in AT&T’s appeals to the FCC encouraging their merger with T-Mo, they state that LTE deployment is slow and the latter’s network and spectrum can help bolster their own to accelerate coverage. Much of this coverage would be made available to rural areas, considering the fact that AT&T’s original plans supported 80% of the population and these more optimistic ones claim 97%. Rural coverage is crucial to this deal due to the fact that government has recently strongly supported nationwide broadband and their capacity to handle that first-hand is a far cry from previous success with telecommunications.

The merger between these two colossal carriers would cost AT&T approximately $39 billion, which they claim is worth it for the broad revenue channels the smaller company could provide. This chief issue, however, has been revealed to cost a much less substantial $3.8 billion if the merger doesn’t go through. While AT&T have since claimed that the revenue benefits more than justify this exchange, the simple fact that 97% LTE deployment is well within the company’s reach sans T-Mobile may prove to be a crippling factor when dealing with the FCC. The Federal Communications Commission’s job is to determine whether or not the advantages of mergers like this outweigh the distinct disadvantages of elimination of competition. In a market as competitive and cornered by few superpowers as this, a slip-up as small as a leaked filing could make all the difference.

Source: DSLReports, Wireless Week | Via: Electronista | Image: Engadget