Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Verizon Wireless recently filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking permission to buy the assets of Golden State Cellular in California and Mobi PCS in Hawaii. Verizon confirmed with Fierce Wireless its plans to acquire Golden State Cellular’s spectrum, network assets, and customers in several markets in California, including Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. Verizon will transition Golden State Cellular’s 18,000 subscribers to its network within 15 months of the deal’s closing. In Hawaii, Verizon will acquire 20-30MHz of PCS spectrum from Mobi PCS, and then lease back 10MHz of that spectrum so Mobi can transition away from being a stand-alone service provider. Verizon said Mobi is still exploring several different ways to exit its wireless business. Both proposal are subject to FCC and other government regulatory approval. Verizon and competitor AT&T have spent the last 12 to 18 months acquiring a significant number of small, regional network operators mostly for their spectrum assets.

The Federal Communications Commission today indicated that it wants more industry players to participate in on-going efforts to enable text-to-911 services. The four largest carriers have already committed to offering such services by May 15 of this year, but the FCC believes this is not enough. It is requesting that the country’s smaller, regional carriers get involved in order to fill in the gaps where AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon don’t offer service. Further, the FCC wants companies that provide over-the-top (OTT) messaging services, such as WhatsApp or Skype, to enable text-to-911 within their applications. To wit, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would force OTT services to enable text-to-911 by the end of the year. The FCC is accepting comments on the idea and will make a final determination later this year. One of the core components is the ability to send a bounce-back message to senders in areas where 911 can’t receive text messages. The FCC feels this is an essential service and keeps in step with how consumers prefer to communicate.

The Federal Communications Commission will today begin accepting bids for H Block spectrum. Auction 96 will be used to sell 176 licenses for the H Block spectrum, which falls in the 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz bands. The FCC held a mock auction to test the bidding process on January 17. Most of the major wireless network operators declined to participate in the auction, though Dish Networks and nearly two dozen other, smaller firms plan to make bids. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are expected to participate more aggressively in an auction on deck for mid-2015, which will cover spectrum in the 600MHz band. The FCC has not said how long it expects Auction 96 to take, though it hopes to raise about $1.6 billion from the winners.

With recent talk suggesting that SoftBank is ready to bid for T-Mobile, U.S. regulators might not be so quick to approve such a deal. Right now, T-Mobile is keeping the industry in the U.S. honest thanks to its consumer friendly attitude, which has resulted in the nation’s fourth largest carrier being its most innovative. Call it the tail wagging the dog if you’d like, but T-Mobile was the operator that started the others on a path toward unsubsidized equipment sales and the end of the two-year contract. T-Mobile is the only one of the four major U.S. carriers that actually has completely done away with subsidized pricing.

T-Mobile also was the first to allow annual phone upgrades, and while the other major carriers tried to catch up with T-Mobile, only the latter offers multiple upgrades in a single year. Other “firsts” credited to the carrier include eliminating data roaming charges for its customers in over 100 countries and offering tablet users 200MB of free data a month for life. In its most recent promotion, T-Mobile will give those who switch to them from Verizon,Sprint and T-Mobile, a $300 credit toward a new phone and will also pay the ETF that is charged to those who break a two-year contract with one of the other three major carriers. All of this innovation has paid off. Over the last two quarters, the company has gained over 1.8 million new subscribers and is adding two new subscribers for each one it loses to AT&T.

It is these consumer friendly actions that would make U.S. regulators think twice before giving approval to an offer to buy T-Mobile. If Sprint (78% owned by SoftBank) and T-Mobile merge, most believe it would end the latter’s innovative ways. Roger Entner, an analyst at Massachusetts based Recon Analytics questions why regulators would even allow a slow moving company like Sprint to purchase a fast mover like T-Mobile. The answer to that question has to do with the amount of spectrum each of the carriers own. A Sprint-T-Mobile combination would still have fewer customers than Verizon and AT&T, but would have twice the spectrum owned by the top two U.S. mobile operators.

“The national wireless market is experiencing a new and refreshing bout of vigorous price and service competition. If Sprint and T-Mobile merge, however, this dynamism may end prematurely.”-Albert Foer,president, American Antitrust Institute

While SoftBank has been scouring the financial world, looking for financing for a T-Mobile bid, the executives at T-Mobile are helpless to prevent a deal from happening. Even outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who has symbolized the company’s emergence with his witty attacks on rivals and his pro-consumer attitude, can’t stop a deal from happening. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns the vast majority of T-Mobile. If another company makes a deal with them to buy the telecom firm’s shares in T-Mobile, the deal could only be halted by U.S. regulators.

The Justice Department and the FCC would have to both sign off on a deal to buy T-Mobile. It was the Justice Department’s decision to fight AT&T that forced the number two carrier to pull out of its $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile in 2011. As a result of pulling out of the acquisition, AT&T had to give T-Mobile some spectrum and $3 billion in cash, which ironically helped make T-Mobile the force to be reckoned with that it is today. And while the Justice Department might seem desirous of keeping the competitive status quo, one former Justice Department antitrust attorney says that an argument could be made otherwise. Allen Grunes, now in private practice, believes that Sprint and T-Mobile could make a case for approval of a merger by saying that the two carriers combined would be a more “effective” competitor to Verizon and AT&T.

source: Bloomberg

Verizon has agreed to sell T-Mobile $3 billion worth of its 700 MHz radio spectrum licenses. The licenses were purchased from the FCC in 2008 but have sat unused since then. They cover the “A” block of the lower 700 MHz band, used by phones with LTE band 12. The licenses cover 21 of the top 30 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Detroit. T-Mobile already has A-block licenses for Boston. The transaction will give T-Mobile 700 MHz A-block spectrum covering a total of 158 million people. T-Mobile hopes to launch 700 MHz service and phones by the end of 2014. Verizon will retain its upper 700 MHz C-block spectrum and continue offering LTE service in that band. T-Mobile will pay Verizon $2.365 billion in cash for the new spectrum, plus the trade of certain AWS (1700 MHz) and PCS (1900 MHz) spectrum licenses worth approximately $950 million.

Rumored Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 SM-T320 appears at the FCC

Yet another Samsung tablet has been approved by the FCC – the Samsung SM-T320. This is one of the several upcoming tablets expected to be announced by Samsung in early 2014. If rumors are to be trusted, this particular device should be known as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 once it is released and it could be positioned in the upper mid-range or high-end tablet segment.
 
As the name implies, we’re dealing with a slate sporting an 8.4-inch screen. The FCC filing for the SM-T320 does not reaffirm this claim, but cargo data from the Indian agency Zauba does. And besides, the physical size of the device seems suitable for a display of this diagonal size. Further hardware and software specs aren’t being listed, although we do know that this Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 should support Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac. Also, there appears to be a camera with flash on the tablet’s back, as seen in the drawing below.
 
The Samsung SM-T320 Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is likely to be unveiled officially in mid-February, meaning that we’re probably going to see it on display at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona.
 

 

Samsung SM-T320
Samsung SM-T320
Samsung SM-T320
Samsung SM-T320

 

 
 
 

 

U.S. wireless network operators and the Federal Communications Commission are on the brink of forging a plan that will make it easier for consumers to unlock their cell phones. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler recently suggested to network operators that they come up with a system for unlocking phones voluntarily before the end of the year, lest the FCC look to regulate the matter. Reuters reports that the companies are still working to surpass a few issues, but should get past them soon. Specifically, the carriers and the FCC have yet to agree on how quickly the new unlocking policy should go into effect, as well as how prepaid devices should be treated and how to prevent unlocked phones from becoming a black market commodity. It has been illegal to unlock cell phones without carrier permission since early this year when the CTIA convinced the Library of Congress to allow an exemption that permitted unlocking to expire. The FCC believes consumers should be able to unlock their devices as long as they are not beholden to a carrier contract, and that carriers should either unlock them automatically or notify consumers that their devices are eligible for unlocking. The FCC wants carriers to unlock devices within two business days once a consumer makes the request.