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27 Jul

What AT&T® Has at Stake for the Streaming and Cable Industry

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The best internet providers in the US are trying every bit to reduce the trait of cord cutting with newer offerings, even as new competitors have surfaced to rival them. Soon after the acquisition of Time Warner®, AT&T® announced the launch of streaming services, including one touted as a skinny bundle dubbed as “WatchTV”. The skinny bundle comes at a monthly cost of $15 and offers a select number of channels for binge-watchers to enjoy at their convenience. Further, the company has announced more streaming video services by 2018.

Another trait that followed suit was applicable to the cable industry as a whole. Some of the best internet providers, including AT&T®, have raised the price of their subscription-TV services by $5. The upcharge to the monthly cost of DIRECTV NOW® has made the cost of the pay-TV service of the Dallas-based Telco to $40 from $35. Another ISP or cable operator to have adopted a similar strategy earlier this year is Comcast®, who raised the price of their triple-play deals on XFINITY® by $5 per month.

Moreover, AT&T® reportedly increased the administrative fee they charge wireless subscribers from the previous 76 cents to $1.99. As per reports, the fee applied to subscribers who have contract-based wireless plans. The Telco giant has confirmed that the fee is applicable for the industry and that it helped cover costs incurred for maintenance of cell site and interconnection amid carriers.

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The AT&T® Unlimited plans begin at $70 per month for a single line and range up to $160 per month for 4 lines with auto pay. Subscribers who sign up for the Unlimited plan also get a select number of cable channels aside from data, voice, and text. The number of channels is not just the forte – that is why it has the characteristic of a quadruple play package.

On the other hand, the WatchTV offers a limited channel lineup, including those of Turner Broadcasting System, which is part of AT&T® WarnerMedia. The skinny bundle provides a more flexible deal for independent users or those who feel cord cutting is the only way to stream programming. The acquisition also paved way for the best internet provider to control and deploy WarnerMedia content, which comprises popular shows on HBO® like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and True Detective.

27 Jun

AT&T® to Buy Digital Ad Exchange AppNexus for $1.6 Billion

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It seems like one of the best internet providers in the US, AT&T® is on a buying spree. Recently, this telecom giant completed their merger with Time Warner® at $85 billion, and following that came the announcement that AT&T® is bidding to buy the digital ad exchange AppNexus for $1.6 billion.

Reports say that AT&Ts aim is to have deeper inroads with digital advertising by making use of the advertising technology of AppNexus. AT&T® has been having interest in digital advertising since this conglomerate became the largest pay-TV service provider in the US, following the acquisition of DirecTV® in 2015. After its merger with Time Warner®, AT&T® is said to be running a dedicated analytics and advertising segment that indicates that the company seems to be having more interest in digital advertising.

AT&T® is counting on digital advertising as a means to reduce the prices for the consumers, transferring a part of the content creation cost from the consumers to the advertisers. The telecom giant has a particular interest in databased advertising like addressable TV ads, mobile ads, and digital ads. AppNexus would possibly give the corporation a stronger position in the field of digital ad marketing.

Unlike some tech companies that work only for app developers and publishers for managing inventory, or for the marketers who purchase ads, the software platform AppNexus is known to carry out both these tasks. The digital ad marketing is a highly competitive zone, with Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Google dominating the space. As per the report by eMarketer in 2018, Facebook and Google are projected for holding 60 percent of the digital advertisement market in the United States of America. The wireless rival Verizon® by AT&T® has a distant third position in the digital ad market with the help of its Oath subsidiary that operates the erstwhile Yahoo! and AOL.

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Even though AT&T® may play a small role in the digital ad market, it may still have many advantages. Firstly, the conglomerate can make use of its wireless data to much better target ads. In the digital ad market, the mobile data is the most difficult to obtain, as advertisers use traditional browser cookies for targeting consumers on the desktop don’t work universally on mobile devices.

AT&T® could be able to outwit this with wireless data used by 130 million consumers. In addition, the reach of AT&T® across channels including TV and mobile could build up a buying platform, which includes many ad formats including digital video and TV ads.

28 May

AT&T® Plans to Leverage Investments in FirstNet®

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Safety Broadband Network

AT&T’s new plans include leveraging the company’s investment in FirstNet® for expanding its coverage in rural areas, solidifying its network and preparing cell sites for supporting 5G services through upgrades to software. In March last year, AT&T® was selected as the contractor of the nationwide public safety broadband network by the First Responder Network Authority. As per FirstNet® contract, AT&T® is responsible to build a broadband network for first responders, in exchange for commercial access to FirstNet’s 700-Megahertz spectrum and $6.5 billion grant that would be given on the condition that the fastest internet provider meets broadband deployment milestones.

Going by the contract, AT&T’s task is to provide a public safety broadband network to first responders. Yet, the CEO of AT&T® Communications, John Donovan, has said that the rural deployment of FirstNet® will not be limited to serving first responders only.

“If you look at where T-Mobile® in wireless and Verizon® in wireless are succeeding, they’re polar opposites — T-Mobile® much more urban, Verizon® much more rural,” Donovan said during an investor conference held in New York. “FirstNet® gives us a great opportunity to go into the rural markets. Not only will we be building the network for first responders, it dawned on us that we should also be putting up stores and going after the consumers. So, I think Verizon’s going to have their hands full with our strategy going forward in the more rural areas.”

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Verizon® will have to compete with AT&T® for public safety customers during this year’s second half, said the CEO of AT&T® Communications. Most of the first responder agencies to have previously signed FirstNet® contracts were commercial subscribers of AT&T®. Yet again, the fastest internet provider anticipates public safety agencies to switch from Verizon Wireless® to FirstNet® for broadband internet services, Donovan said.

“The benefit for them is that not only do they get onto a dedicated core with a fallback on the commercial network, but they also get features like preemption and all of those sorts of things that provide them benefits,” he added. “We anticipate, starting this year, to build wireless-customer growth from those, because—as I’m sure you are aware—today the preponderance of that market share sits with Verizon®, and we anticipate a lot of that moving to [FirstNet®].”

The same sentiment was echoed by Randall Stephenson, the AT&T® CEO, at an investor conference held in Boston.

04 May

AT&T® Outlines Commercial Fixed Wireless 5G Deployment Strategies

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Fixed Wireless

As per the results of fixed 5G trials conducted in select cities, AT&T® anticipates 5G mobile services that operate on mmWave spectrum to have transmitters placed inside 150 to 250 meters from one site to the other. The current mobile broadband services of AT&T® are deployed through a network infrastructure, which operates on 700 megahertz to 2 gigahertz band. However, AT&T® plans to deploy 5G mobile services that rely on 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum. This band not only offers higher speeds and lower latency rates of below 10 milliseconds, but also transmits signals almost as good as the airwaves of lower band.

The Chief Financial Officer of AT&T®, John Stephens, said that the officials of the best internet provider are persuaded by the outcomes of fixed 5G tests. “We’re seeing gigabit-plus speeds under line-of-sight conditions to distances up to 900 feet and with extremely low latency rates, some as low as 9 milliseconds,” he said during a quarterly earnings call of AT&T®. “These trials have shown that millimeter-wave [signals are] able to penetrate foliage, glass—and even walls—better than anticipated with no discernible signal performance impacts due to rain, snow or other weather issues.”

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The Assistant VP of Radio Technology and Strategy at AT&T® Labs, Dave Wolster, said that the engineers of the company are certain that fixed wireless connections that operate on mmWave spectrum will deliver desired signals, even at ranges above 300 meters and under conditions favorable to line of sight communication. “With fixed wireless at millimeter wave, we have a lot of antenna gain to work with,” Wolter said. “At the base station, we have an antenna array of maybe 64 elements that are beam-forming, so they concentrate the energy in the direction of interest toward your user. The user also has an antenna array with higher gain than what you would have in a mobile device, and it uses higher power than typical mobile devices are using.”

The best internet provider expects fixed antennas to be placed outside of a construction window using Low-E glass, unlike how they used it inside of such windows in fixed 5G tests. “With millimeter waves, you lose quite a bit of power just going through a window, so we’re having to deal with that, as well. If you can put [the antennas] outside, you’ll get substantially more range, just because you don’t have that loss through the window,” Wolter added.

21 Nov

AT&T® Remains Confident About the Time Warner® Merger

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AT&T-Time Warner Merger 

One of the leading internet providers in the country, AT&T® is still holding discussions with the US Department of Justice about their planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner®. John Stephens, who is the CFO of the telecom giant, recently claimed that he is still confident that AT&T® will seal the deal soon.

In addition to that, the officials from the telecom company also disclosed that their online streaming service, DirecTV Now® recently hit the 900,000 subscriber mark. DirecTV Now® was launched by AT&T® back in November 2016 and these numbers indicate that the streaming service has already become a big success.

The officials from AT&T® said, “About half of these subscribers are cord-cutters or cord-nevers, with about 10 percent of those coming from AT&T’s DirecTV® and U-Verse® services. The other half has migrated from other traditional TV providers.”

In addition to that, Stephens also talked about their acquisition of Time Warner® and said, “We are in discussions with the DOJ.” However, he refused to share information regarding the recent discussions of AT&T® with the Department of Justice. Yet, he stated that the timing of the close of Time Warner® merger remains uncertain currently.

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Stephens said, “We continue to believe that the transaction will close. If you look at the antitrust history, the facts, law, the economics, [that leads to] the conclusion that we will be able to close.”

Reports from several sources had earlier claimed that AT&T® would be selling CNN, DirecTV®, or even the entire Turner cable networks unit of Time Warner® to close the merger between the two parties. Randall Stephenson, who is the CEO and Chairman of AT&T® responded to these false reports and said, “Irrespective of what you read yesterday, I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done is CNN. Period. And, likewise, I have never offered to sell CNN.”

The AT&T CEO also said that, “from an antitrust perspective, it’s illogical for me to think this deal doesn’t get approved.” It is reported that the US Department of Justice would most probably file a lawsuit in a few days to block the merger between the companies. Yet if the estimated deal is completed, the entertainment executive of AT&T®, John Stankey will most likely oversee Time Warner®, which means that he will be able to control HBO, CNN, and more networks.

13 Nov

AT&T® Will not Sell any Assets to Close the Time Warner® Merger

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AT&T® -Time Warner® Merger

Randall Stephenson, the CEO of one of the best internet service providers in the country, AT&T® recently released an official statement, in which he confirmed that the telecom company would sell neither CNN nor its key assets to satisfy the demand of the Justice Department to close $85 billion their merger with Time Warner®.

AT&T® and the Justice Department are currently engaged in a war of words on whether the Trump Administration would approve the merger or not. The Trump Administration has been reviewing merger between both the parties for about a year now.

As a result, Stephenson recently stated that if there is zero progress on the ongoing negations, then the telecom giant would most likely seek the help of the court to protect their planned merger and to prevent the chances of any divestiture. In addition to that, Stephenson also expressed his frustrations over false reports that the telecom giant might be selling CNN.

He said, “I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done was selling CNN, period. And likewise, I have never offered to sell CNN.” A Justice Department source had insisted that AT&T® promised to trade CNN as part of the negations over the Time Warner® merger.

The sources also claimed that the Justice Department had informed AT&T® that they need to sell one of their important assets such as DirecTV® or Turner Broadcasting that includes CNN in order to get approved for the acquisition of Time Warner®.

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Stephenson responded to these reports and he said that the telecom company should not be expected “to sell something larger.” He added, “It’s why you did the deal, it’s where the synergies come from. Selling the key franchises makes no sense, and those are the kind of things we’d move to litigation.”

The managing director of telecommunications policy at Cowen & Co, Paul Gallant said, “I expect the DOJ is concerned that AT&T® would abuse its new power with Time Warner® content and unfairly leverage Time Warner® content against its distributor rivals.”

However, a senior litigation analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, Jennifer Rie commented that the Justice Department blocking the deal seems surprising. “From what we’re hearing, they’re at a stalemate,” she said. “The DOJ is staunchly sticking to structural remedies, and AT&T is staunchly against selling assets.”

26 Oct

AT&T® to Use New LTE Technologies to Speed up Existing Networks

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LTE-Advanced Technologies

It is true that the internet customers in the United States will soon be able to enjoy 5G in the near future, but that doesn’t mean that the LTE, the 4G technology that we love and know, is done, at least for now. LTE-Advanced, which is the name assigned to a number of innovative new technologies by leading internet providers, can still offer a better internet using experience to subscribers.

In a recent earnings call, the CFO of AT&T®, John Stephens announced that the telecom company would be deploying LTE-Advanced technologies to approximately 20 cities in the country and all the new networks will start to run by the end of this year. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the telecom giant is eyeing to offer a maximum internet speed of 400 Mbps to their internet customers. The average internet speed available to customers due to the implementation of these new technologies is estimated to be around 40 Mbps, which is twice as high as the current average internet speed offered by AT&T®.

Officials from the telecom company also hinted that they are planning to combine three new technologies and use them for capacity upgrades and to deliver impressive internet speed. Some of the best internet providers in the country, including AT&T®, have been using the technology of carrier aggregation for quite a few years. This innovative technology efficiently combines more than one chunk of LTE spectrum across a wide range of frequencies, thereby allowing handsets to access and download data from different LTE bands at the very same time. 2CA, which aggregates two different carriers together, has already gained popularity among Americans.

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LTE-Licensed Assisted Access

Another new technology pushed out by AT&T®, Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), combines data streams from multiple antennas in order to boost the entire bitrate available to users. In addition to that, it also partners exceptionally well with carrier aggregation.

The final piece of the puzzle, LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) is critical, as it efficiently combines unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum with the usual LTE frequencies. This enables AT&T® to deploy small cell towers, which use 5 GHz in order to communicate with multiples devices in the close vicinity. This in turn significantly reduces the load on the traditional LTE network of AT&T®.

Experts believe that these technologies will be critically important during the rollout of 5G too. Therefore, incorporating the use of these technologies in the existing networks is certainly a smart move.

19 Oct

AT&T’s U-Verse® Service to Become Unavailable on Web Browsers

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U-Verse® Service Unavailable

The concept of live TV has shifted away from the traditional forms of viewing such as on a television set to more advanced platforms like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Many of the TV and internet providers operating in the country have adjusted accordingly making sure that the contents are catered to and delivered across all mediums and not only on television. AT&T’s DirecTV Now® is one such live streaming service that has made available its service across a range of platforms. In view of this, AT&T U-Verse® will become unavailable through internet browsers from the next month onward.

Due to this, customers will no longer be able to access on-demand programming or stream live content using their internet browsers. An AT&T U-Verse® statement said, “In an effort to focus our U-Verse® streaming application development on core platforms, we will no longer support U-Verse® streaming via uverse.com effective October 31, 2017. We encourage our U-Verse® customers to take advantage of the other streaming applications available to them, including via the iOS and Android platforms.”

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Streaming Application Development

AT&T U-Verse® has set forth this new move because of its decreasing investment in its legacy cable TV service. Besides, this service is also diverting many of its customers into another prominent streaming service owned by the Telco, DirecTV®. Last year the number of U-Verse® connections lost by AT&T® amount to approximately 1.4 million. Moreover, the streaming service has also lost a significant part of its customer base amounting to 428,000 connections in the first quarter of this year.

Customers who have left their U-Verse® connections have already subscribed to other AT&T® services like DirecTV® and DirecTV Now®. At the second quarter of the year, AT&T® had a TV subscriber base of about 25.2 million. Recently, the Telco has declared in a SEC filing that during the third quarter it has lost around 90,000 of its video subscribers. Due to this large drop out of subscribers, AT&T® has minimized the investments to keep up the streaming service particularly U-Verse®.

Previously, AT&T® considered shelving the U-Verse® service entirely. The Telco simply intends to focus its resources on many of its streaming services that are most popular amongst its subscriber base. It is not the first time that AT&T® decided to roll back the U-Verse® service. The Telco had rolled back the U-Verse® branded internet and phone service to improve its other services such as the AT&T® Internet and AT&T® Phone.

12 Oct

AT&T® and FirstNet Launch Developer Program to Ensure Public Safety

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FirstNet Developer Program

AT&T®, one of the best internet service provider of the country, has joined hands with FirstNet to launch the first-ever developer program that is aimed at the first responders of the country. The program is to encourage and improve innovations that are aimed at public safety to equip first responders with the latest communication tools. The program also makes public safety responders closer to having their app store where they will be able to find solutions that are built to cater to their needs.

“This program will tap into the expertise and creativity of the developer community to drive innovation for public safety,” said CEO of FirstNet, Mike Poth. “It will also connect first responders with developers to create apps that will help them stay safe and save lives.”

The developer program is devised to offer apps to the FirstNet app store, offering public safety with a one-stop shop that provides secure and reliable solutions that are optimized for the FirstNet network. Based on the open and common standards, the developer ecosystem will act as an engine to have innovative, cost effective, and interoperable solutions for public safety.

“The FirstNet app ecosystem is an important building block as we work to modernize public safety’s communications tools and capabilities,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president at AT&T®. “The FirstNet network will bring public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and collaborate. But it’s really what we’re able to build on top of that connectivity that will make the biggest difference in these brave men and women’s day-to-day operations.”

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Public Safety Communications Tools

Through the developer program of FirstNet, developers can make public safety apps and customize them for the first responders. The developers will have access to specialized portal that house resources, which can help them crate, test, deploy, and maintain various applications for public safety. In addition to the programming tools like software development kits and application programming interfaces, the portal also offers guidelines to be followed while developing apps for public safety.

Some key focus areas for the potential developers are in-building mapping, situational awareness, telemetry solutions, and wearable devices, records management and field reporting, and forensic intelligence. The developer program will also provide collaboration between the developers and the first responders to offer mission critical apps aimed at public safety and tools to provide access to timely data. Both AT&T® and FirstNet will conduct challenges and events to support the collaboration.

“The developer program establishes a clear line of sight between public safety and app developers,” Sambar added. “It will help ensure the apps developed truly meet first responders’ field needs. It’s a really important thing that was missing from the market. Until now.”

16 Sep

WRAL-TV And WRAZ Go Dark On AT&T U-Verse®

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WRAL-TV And WRAZ Gone Dark

AT&T U-Verse® customers recently loss access to Fox affiliate WRAZ and Local NBC affiliate WRAL-TV. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the blackout of these two popular channels is due to a dispute between the parent company of the stations, Capitol Broadcasting, and AT&T®. However, it seems that AT&T®, who is one of the best internet providers in the country, is currently trying to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

In their website, WRAL wrote, “Our channels are currently not airing on AT&T U-Verse®. Capitol Broadcasting Company stations WRAL and FOX 50 are affected and we apologize for the inconvenience to you. While we work to get this resolved, it’s always helpful, for you, the customer, to call AT&T U-Verse® and tell them you expect to get the channels you’re paying them for. That number is 1-800-288-2020.”

The website further said that users could watch the channels anytime over-the-air for free. “You can always watch WRAL/NBC and FOX 50/Fox Network for free in crystal clear HD with an over-the-air antenna, available at local big box stores or get one here. Other ways to watch WRAL: All WRAL newscasts are available live right here on WRAL.com or you can download the free WRAL channel app and stream the newscasts live on Roku, AppleTV and Fire TV,” the web page states.

During the outage of these channels, the TV screens of customers who are currently under AT&T U-Verse® carried the following message:

“The owner of this channel has removed it from the U-Verse lineup despite our request to keep it available to you. Visit att.com/fightingforyou for more information on this station’s return.”

In addition to that, a spokesman from AT&T U-Verse®, Josh Gelinas, blamed the parent company of WRAL for the outage. He added, “Capitol is deliberately stopping WRAL and WRAZ from reaching their homes until Capitol receives a significant increase in fees.”

In their full statement, AT&T® wrote, “We want to get WRAL and WRAZ back into our Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville customers’ lineups as soon as possible. Doing so requires permission from their owner, Capitol Broadcasting, since FCC rules grant WRAL and WRAZ exclusive control over whether those stations remain available on U-Verse®.”

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WRAL Channel App

“We share our customers’ frustration because Capitol is deliberately stopping WRAL and WRAZ from reaching their homes until Capitol receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over the air on channels 50 and 5 and, often, at nbc.com and fox.com or using the NBC and Fox Now apps,” the statement added.

Officials at AT&T® further said, “Capitol has blocked its stations from reaching our own and other providers’ customers before, while also threatening to disconnect others. All Capitol needs to do is grant its permission, and we can have WRAL and WRAZ back into our customers’ homes within moments. Our goal is to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and we appreciate our Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville customers’ patience while we attempt just that.”

Customers who lost access to these couple of channels will miss a few important college football games that will air on Fox and WRAL on the weekend. In addition to that, the NFL football matches on the same channels on Sunday will also be unavailable to customers.

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