Hoping few would notice, AT&T's filing with the SEC last Friday
notes that the telecom giant will be taking a $10 billion hit on fourth quarter earnings. According to AT&T, $7.9 billion of that total is "related to actuarial gains and losses on pension and postemployment benefit plans." The specific nature of those losses? The company's ex-employees are living longer than company projections estimated (or as AT&T puts it, they've had to "update mortality assumptions").
The company's taking another $2.1 billion hit for backing away from DSL markets it doesn't want to upgrade in order to focus on significantly more profitable wireless services.
"During the fourth quarter, we performed an analysis of our network assets and determined that specific copper assets will not be necessary to support future network activity, due to declining customer demand for our legacy voice and data products and the migration of our networks to next generation technology," AT&T wrote.
The company didn't specify which markets they'll be hanging up on, but the company's lobbyists have been going state to state
trying to convince local regulators to dismantle regulations requiring they continue to provide dial tone and DSL (and in the process many consumer protections as well).
Mexico's competition watchdog has signed off on AT&T's $2.5 billion acquisition of Mexican wireless carrier Iusacell, a deal that was originally announced last month
. According to Reuters
, Mexico's Federal Competition Commission did impose some unspecified conditions on the deal to "avoid risks to the process of competition." AT&T's Iusacell will compete with Carlos Slim's America Movil, in which AT&T owned a minority stake until shortly before this new deal was announced.
Netflix today released their Netflix streaming ISP performance rankings
for the month of November, which indicates that Verizon FiOS still tops the chart among large ISPs in the States (though Google Fiber tops the list among all ISPs, large and small). There's again only minor movement in the rankings, with Cox Communications dropping two spots and Comcast gaining two spots.
notes that AT&T and Verizon have opened their checkbook when it comes to lobbying new members of Capitol Hill's incoming freshman class, anticipating efforts to rewrite the Communications Act next year (predominately in favor of incumbent ISPs). "AT&T donated big bucks to 31 first-time pols, or almost half of all congressional freshmen," notes the report, which adds that "Verizon wrote checks to 28 new members, [and] Comcast supported 22 newcomers to Congress." In contrast, Microsoft and Google (which is trying to court the GOP by staying mute on net neutrality
), each "sponsored" five new politicians each.
Competing carriers for years have complained about AT&T and Verizon's more than 85% market dominance of the special access market -- or the fiber lines that help feed and connect cellular towers. Add British Telecom to the list of companies lobbying for changes on that front; the UK company visited the FCC this week
to protect its business services, complaining that AT&T and Verizon are charging "five or six times what it should cost" for companies to move from legacy TDM networks such as T1s to faster technology. The complaints come at the same time BT is facing a fresh round of anti-competitive monopoly allegations across the pond
While many argued that the USA Freedom Act didn't go far enough after being watered down in negotiations, as the EFF explores
it was the best chance yet at enacting some meaningful reform in the surveillance community. While it didn't reform the non-transparent FISA court process, and it contained loose language sure to be abused by government lawyers, it did aim to appoint a special advocate to argue for citizen rights before the FISA court and was at least a step in the right direction
Several weeks ago, I wrote about
how the new NBA TV rights deal would likely raise everyone’s cable bill whether you watch the NBA or not. But slowly, TV providers are realizing that customers have in fact had enough with paying for absurdly expensive regional sports networks that only a minority of customers actually watch.
FCC boss Tom Wheeler had originally hoped to have net neutrality rules finalized by December, but the President's declaration yesterday that he unequivocally supports Title II reclassification
appears to have delayed final rules well into 2015. In a statement
responding to the President's request, Wheeler acknowledges that the agency needs more time to analyze the potential ramifications (including their legal footing against lawsuits) of rules that classify last-mile ISPs under Title II.
Consumer advocates intend to ramp up their pressure on the government ahead of an FCC decision on neutrality rules. Consumer advocates want ISPs reclassified as utilities under Title II, arguing it's the only legal tenable way forward to protect consumers from ISP anti-competitive behavior. story continues..
AT&T has announced a significant expansion across North America with the company's $2.5 billion acquisition of Mexican provider Iusacell. According to AT&T's announcement
, Iusacell currently serves around 8.6 million subscribers but covers roughly 70% of Mexico's nearly 120 million residents. The deal, notes AT&T, makes their network the first in North America to cover 400 million combined Mexico & U.S. consumers and businesses. "This is an opportunity for us to provide Iusacell the financial resources, scale and expertise to accelerate the roll-out of world-class mobile Internet speeds and quality in Mexico, like we have in the United States," insists AT&T in their statement.
FCC boss Tom Wheeler has made it clear that the agency is being very careful when it comes to the "IP transition" away from copper networks. Speaking recently at Comptel, Wheeler proclaimed
that he wouldn't tolerate companies using the idea of an IP transition as justification to erode competing options.
While T-Mobile's tactics may not yet be truly hurting Verizon
, AT&T's latest earnings report indicates they're feeling the pesky upstart's assault. AT&T's latest earnings
missed Wall Street estimates, and the company had to lower growth projections due to what has largely been superficial price competition
with T-Mobile. Still, AT&T posted net income of $3 billion on revenues of $32.9 billion, adding a healthy 785,000 postpaid wireless subscribers. AT&T also sports a 0.99% churn rate, suggesting that the majority of the company's customers are staying put, unswayed by John Legere's sultry advances.
After spending most of the last decade profiting off of cramming, AT&T this month was finally held accountable by the government and fined $105 million
by the FTC, FCC, and state governments. A similar investigation is ongoing again T-Mobile, and you can likely expect similar settlements in time with both Verizon and Sprint, who also turned a blind eye for years while scammers bilked their customers (why? because they netted 30-40% of the profits).
We've discussed at length how AT&T's "IP transition" is being framed as some sort of evolutionary transition toward a "glorious all-IP future," but is really largely about AT&T gutting regulations in order to hang up on POTS (plain old telephone) and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade
. The name of the game is terminating these unwanted users and pushing them users toward significantly more expensive (and capped) LTE wireless service.
AT&T has been chosen to power the in-car LTE service now being integrated by Audi, and an announcement back in March made it clear the privilege of the data integration isn't particularly cheap
(then again, if you can afford an Audi and Audi repairs, data plan overages may not be a worry). According to an Audi announcement
, customers can also now add their Audi to AT&T's Mobile Share data plan, allowing their vehicle to pull from their monthly data allotment.
AT&T is pushing their Digital Life
home automation and security services in a new direction in the hopes of expanding revenue: they're now offering in-home monitoring services marketed to those caring for the elderly. According to the company announcement
, the new product is called "Digital Life Care" and will be trialed in employee homes this year, and should see a broader commercial deployment sometime in 2015.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile's Isis NFC-based mobile payment service was already struggling, with many users either simply not interested in the idea of using their smartphone as a debit card, already using other services, or simply never having heard of it
. Now things are more complicated, with the service suddenly sharing its name with a violent iraqi uprising dominating the newswires (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS).
Popular Science serves up an interesting read
about the discovery of fake "towers" that are being used to surreptitiously intercept cell phone traffic. ESD America offers a product they call the GSMK Cryptophone 500, which is essentially a Galaxy S III running modified hardware and a modified, more-secure version of Android -- which the company states purges 468 vulnerabilities from the traditional Android build.
California this week became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring that cell phones include so-called "kill switch" functionality to deter theft, enabled by default (the full law is here
, pdf). Minnesota passed a similar law earlier this year, but in that version of the law, the functionality is turned off by default.
The New York Post
claims that AT&T has struck a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow AT&T's $48.5 billion plan
to acquire DirecTV to move forward. The report fails to specify what precise conditions the DOJ will place on the deal, though it does suggest that regulators are leaning toward approval with DOJ approval coming as soon as October.
·more stories, story search, most popular ..
Recent news contributors