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08 Feb

AT&T To Acquire FiberTower For Millimeter Wave Spectrum

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AT&T FiberTower Deal

AT&T officials recently announced that the company has decided to acquire FiberTower as well as the millimeter wave spectrum rights owned by the company. The amount related to this purchase by AT&T is still unclear.

FiberTower is a company that provides wireless services to enterprises, government bodies, and carriers alike. FiberTower’s services are mainly used by carriers for backhauling their wireless networks. The acquisition of the FiberTower has numerous benefits for AT&T in its 5G cellular services and the centralized radio access networks. This has been a part of AT&T’s efforts to lay groundwork for its future networking solutions.

It is reported that FiberTower has been actively marketing its wireless solutions to major carriers and has licenses in most areas like Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore, and Detroit. Its 24 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum can provide more than 200 high capacity links per square kilometer.

AllNet Insights states that FiberTower currently owns about 8.4 billion MHz POPs that is 8.4 billion 39 GHz and 374 MM 24 GHz. The company has previously lost many of its spectrum licenses by the actions of the Federal Communications Commission. The failure in building the required infrastructure to provide the spectrum is the reason attributed to the cancelling of the licenses by the FCC. However, the company has come up with retaining some of its spectrum thereby avoiding the loss of the licenses it holds.

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Wireless Network Services

Once the standard is correctly defined, this millimeter wave spectrum will play a crucial role in AT&T’s 5G network plans. The Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson and AT&T have already experimented with this spectrum. Their efforts have been largely successful in demonstrating a millimeter wave system capable of providing speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

By acquiring the spectrum, AT&T plans to install its remote radio heads connected to the central baseband units. Fiber is the preferred medium for these wireless links. The installation process for every C-RAN deployment will prove to be more costly and impossible due to many issues pertaining to permitting and zoning.

Reports say that Verizon Communications has also acquired accessibility to the spectrum licenses of 28 GHz and 39 GHz. It had brought these licenses through the purchasing of XO Communications. The carrier for buying the licenses later has secured the necessary rights for leasing XO’s licenses.

06 Feb

AT&T Plans To Deliver DirecTV Now Via 5G

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DirecTV Now Via 5G

In a recent announcement, AT&T revealed their plans to conduct a trial to deliver their latest streaming service, DirecTV Now, in the Austin region via 5G wireless broadband. Reports indicate that the trial will most likely happen in the first half of this year.

The telecom giant also added that they are planning to test “additional next-generation entertainment services of fixed 5G connections.” The officials from AT&T stated that the trial will be held at multiple locations and they will use a number of devices for the assessment. They also added that the trial would focus on how fixed wireless millimeter wave technology can handle the heavy video traffic.

The telecom company has already laid out their 5G strategy for 2017 a few weeks ago. AT&T officials added that they were able to achieve an incredible speed of 14 Gbps in less than 3 milliseconds of latency. They stated that the constant 4G LTE development was an integral part to “laying the foundation” for 5G.

“We’re currently deploying three-way carrier aggregation in select areas, and plan to introduce four-way carrier aggregation as well as LTE-License Assisted Access this year,” the company said on its 5G progress website. Furthermore, the officials from AT&T said that, “These trials are significant because they will be our first trials to use what we expect to be based upon the 5G New Radio specification being developed by the industry technology standards group 3GPP.”

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5G Wireless Broadband

“Industry standards are important to enabling wide-scale 5G commercialization. The trials will test both mobile and fixed wireless solutions operating in mmWave spectrum accelerating commercial deployments in the 28 Ghz and 39 Ghz bands. They will showcase new 5G radio mmWave technologies for increasing network capacity while achieving multi-gigabit data rates,” they added.

AT&T had earlier announced a “multi-dwelling unit fixed wireless point-to-point mmWave trial in Minneapolis.” The focus of this trial was to reach subscribers who are living outside of their 21-state wireline area. The company has also planned on exploring additional markets for trial locations.

A recent report claimed that AT&T delivers 100 percent fiber-carried 1 Gbps to “nearly 4 million locations across 46 metros nationwide” and they are planning to have “at least 12.5 million locations across 67 metro areas with our 100 percent fiber network.”

17 Jan

Rob Lowe Criticizes DirecTV For NFL Playoff Blackout

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Rob Lowe

Before a few years, DirecTV teamed with Rob Lowe for some commercials. These commercials made some people upset over the societal implications and for some of the claims that were made in the commercials, but could not be proven true.

DirecTV pulled the plug out of all these advertisements eventually, and ended the relation with Lowe. Yet now, Lowe has roasted DirecTV for an NFL playoff game being blacked out on the service owing to the dispute between DirecTV and the local carrier.

In one of his tweets, Lowe called back to his pitchman days. “Fox and DirecTV have blocked out the Seattle vs. Atlanta game in my area,” he posted on Twitter. “Stop the greed and let the fans see the game!!”

“Hi, I’m Rob Lowe,” he wrote in a second post. “And I’M “Screwed Over” Rob Lowe, with DirecTV that cuts off my abiliy to watch NFL games during the playoffs!” This tweet was later deleted by Lowe later, but it got many shares before that.

Lowe took shots at modern TV when The Grinder was canceled. In the advertisements that pimp the services and prices offered by the satellite TV provider, Lowe played a successful version of himself opposed to a more unfortunate version, which make use of cable TV instead of satellite TV. The viewers might think that Lowe wanted to watch something on the cable or some streaming only option.

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DirecTV Blackout

The said dispute is between the Missouri located media conglomerate News-Press and Gazette and DirecTV. The News-Press & Gazette Company own Fox affiliates in many of the markets, including the one in Santa Barbara where Lowe currently lives. It is reported that this type of holdouts happen much often these days, as everything is becoming more and more expensive, without offering for similar rises in the employee compensations.

It is clear that Lowe wanted to be cheering on the game or at least watch the game silently. As per the reports, he has dropped another message on Twitter about DirecTV that was shared all around the social media, before he pulled the message. Currently, the NFL has a week of playoffs. This includes both conference championship games, before Super Bowl.

17 Jan

DirecTV Now Customers Ask For Refund

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AT&T Streaming Service

The latest online streaming service, DirecTV Now, has encountered plenty of streaming issues since its launch. What’s more, a number of DirecTV Now subscribers recently reported that AT&T, which is the parent company of DirecTV Now, refused to give them a refund.

Reports indicate that the customers requested for refund, as they were not satisfied with the performance offered by the streaming service. Many DirecTV customers noted that they contacted AT&T reps through the chat feature and asked about refunds for their subscription, but the officials replied that the company is not offering any refunds to its customers.

One of the AT&T representatives responded to a customer by stating that, “We do not currently have a policy in place to offer any refunds.” However, a DirecTV Now subscriber complained, “Constant buffering, freezing and lockups at various times of the day. DirecTV Now is NOT ready for prime time.”

AT&T had earlier marketed DirecTV Now as a “cancel anytime” type of service, but it seems that you might not be able to get your money back if you are dissatisfied with the performance offered by the service. According to experts, most of the new streaming services have faced similar streaming issues and other technical difficulties in the initial months of its launch, and it is expected that AT&T fix all the technical issues and other problems soon.

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DirecTV Now Customers

A recent statement from an AT&T spokesperson noted, “With any new technology there are going to be fixes that need to be made. While we understand we still have work to do, overall feedback on DIRECTV NOW has been very positive. We’re continuously updating the app to provide a better experience for customers. We encourage customer to keep the app updated.”

DirecTV Now offers plenty of exciting offers to customers and it is one of the best streaming service options available to the customers. The basic package offered by DirecTV Now is available to the subscribers at just $35 a month and it offers access to more than 60 popular channels.

However, DirecTV Now is not the only streaming service option for cord cutters. Dish Network’s Sling TV and PlayStation Vue are the major competitors of DirecTV Now, who are doing quite well in the market. Reports indicate that the streaming issues in DirecTV Now might even force customers to move to Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.

19 Dec

AT&T To Raise U-Verse Prices In January

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U-Verse Price Hike

AT&T has recently announced an increase for many of their programming packages like U-Verse IPTV, Phone, and DirecTV from January 2017. It is reported that the higher programming costs has compelled AT&T to increase the charges. City officials and users will be notified about the raise in the boiling statements. The additional charge is levied to recover a portion of money that the local broadcasters charge AT&T Inc to carry their programming.

Comcast Corporation has also announced that they will increase monthly subscription charges of their video and internet services by an average of 3.8% across the nation soon. It is reported that the effective date of increase in subscription fees will differ from market to market though, yet the hike is expected to start by Jan 1, 2017.

Increased Pricing Schemes

It is reported that the users of U-Family and U-Family All In packages by AT&T will see an increase of two dollars per month in subscription charges, while U100 users will see an increase of three dollars per month. The U200, U200 All In, U200 Latino, U200 Latino All In, and U300, subscribers will see an increase of five dollars per month in service charges, whereas the charges for U400, U450, and U450 Latino All In packages will go up by eight dollars per month.

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The U-Verse broadcast TV surcharge will go up by one dollar per month in all AT&T markets excluding Montgomery. In some markets, including Biloxi, MS, Detroit, MI, and Wilmington, NC, the surcharge will increase by 1.15 dollars, whereas in markets like Raleigh-Durham, NC, Los Angeles, CA, and Jackson, MS, the charge will increase by 61 cents.

The Phone Unlimited plan of thirty-five dollars and Phone 200 plan of twenty-five dollars will go up by one dollar. Apart from that, AT&T also announced an increase in price for eight of their nine basic DirecTV packages from 2 dollars to 6 dollars per month.

The strategic collaborations and acquisitions by AT&T have offered much to the growth of the company. If the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc by AT&T goes through smoothly, the combined entity will have a major role on the telecom media space.

AT&T’s collaboration with Intel will also help them develop new software centric technologies. They are also aiming to expand their 4G LTE wireless networks, field testing the 5G technology, and increasing their footprint in Internet of Things (IOT) space.

16 Dec

NAD Says That Charter’s Ad Claims On DirecTV Were Unsupported

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DirecTV Subscribers

The ad review team of the Better Business Bureau has recently advised Charter Communications to stop using advertisements that make what it says are “unsubstantiated” claims about the impact of AT&T and DirecTV merger on customer support and service.

“NAD [National Advertising Division] determined that the depicted conversation in the ‘Transfer’ commercial conveys the substantive message that DirecTV’s merger with AT&T has had a deleterious effect on the company’s ability to provide customer service. Because such a claim was not supported, NAD recommended that the advertisement be discontinued,” the report said.

It is true that the commercials are funny, but being funny does not remove the obligation to support the claims that are made by the commercials, said NAD. The National Advertising Division is an investigate unit of the advertisement industry self-regulatory body and the recommendations of NAD are not finding of wrongdoings. According to NAD, Charter Communications said that they accepted the recommendations put forward by the division.

NAD also said that Charter could support the claims made in their ads about the promotional pricing. These advertisements were placed on the internet and were also broadcasted. The ad featured comedian Kevin Nealon as the “captain” of a satellite TV service that is made to look out of date. The ads “depicted satellite television consumers as frustrated with the number and type of channels featured in their particular service package and included the unsupported claim that DirecTV customers ‘pay more for what [they] love to watch’,” NAD said.

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Unsupported Claims

However, Officials said that one of the claims of Charter was supported. Charter claimed that the DirecTV bill has doubled as the old bill had been at a promotional price. “NAD found the claim supported by the evidence in the record,” the report added.

It is to be noted that this is not the first time that NAD criticized advertisements of a media company. They had recently asked Comcast Corporation to stop making claims that their subs have access to 4 times more unique movies and shows than DirecTV. These claims were made in the “Get Faster” and “Rerun” ads.

The ads, in addition to the content claim, also said that DirecTV is “is built on old tech”, that “customers must watch reruns,” and “does not offer voice-controlled search features,” and that Comcast “has newer technology overall.” NAD said that Comcast should drop the “old tech” claim and the suggestion that DirecTV does not give voice controlled search features.

13 Dec

Lawmakers Might Approve The AT&T And Time Warner Deal

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AT&T-TimeWarner Deal

One of the leading telecom industries in the country, AT&T had recently announced their plans to acquire Time Warner Inc. for an estimated $85.4 billion deal. This proposed merger was frostily greeted by the lawmakers, but reports indicate that they have changed their opinion on the merger.

A recent hearing held at the Capitol Hill discussed how mega mergers like this will be reviewed under the Trump Administration. The members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, which oversees regulatory agencies that decide on mergers, stated that the deal between AT&T and Time Warner merited tough scrutiny. The chief executives of both Time Warner and AT&T were questioned about a number of issues related to this proposed merger.

The lawmakers also enquired that whether the traditional way of evaluating or analyzing the mergers has become outdated or not as major companies such as Google and Facebook have become huge media platforms, which threaten the television industry. Reports say that the tone of the lawmakers was a lot more cautions than the one they used after the announcement of this deal.

The head of the full judiciary committee, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said, “We want to ensure that competition thrives in this critical market and we don’t stifle innovation or deter the emergence of cutting-edge technologies that customers demand.” He also added that the video landscape has been transformed by Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia stated that this proposed merger would combine companies, which do not participate against each other. He said, “The consumer is benefited from the aggregation. That is called capitalism.”

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Multi Billion Deal

A professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Larry Downes, said that the senators were asking “hard questions.” However, he added, “they seem to be open-minded about the changing nature of competition in the information sector.”

AT&T and Time Warner had earlier stated that the telecom company would buy Time Warner in order to produce a mobile video powerhouse. At present, the mergers are not reviewed by the Members of Congress, but the hearings will provide guidance for the Federal Communications Commission and for the antitrust regulators at the Justice Department.

An analyst at Cowen and Company, Paul Gallant said, “The D.O.J. pays particularly close attention to Senate and House antitrust subcommittees because they oversee the D.O.J.” He also added that the committee’s commentary “bears watching for its potential effect on the D.O.J.”

12 Dec

DirecTV Now Prices Likely To Go Up

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DirecTV Now Pricing

AT&T released their DirecTV Now service recently and they are offering the new 100 channel bundle for just thirty five dollars a month. Experts say that this price will go up to sixty dollars per month in the near future, but the early subscribers of the bundle will be locked in for the thirty dollars pricing deal. Some say that the catch here is that AT&T has the rights to make adjustments in pricing as needed when the content expenses go up.

AT&T seems to be interested in offering a complete bundle and their current strategy could leave the price conscious users looking around for other options. Some of the other streaming services follow a different approach in pricing and this could make their packages more enticing to the users who are looking to spend less. It should be noted that Sling TV from Dish and PlayStation Vue from Sony have made efforts to keep the subscription charges low by working with the different media companies to make changes in what is offered and the charges.

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DirecTV Now Subscribers

The cost estimates for DirecTV Now by analysts indicate that it will be almost impossible for AT&T to make profits on their standard thirty-five dollars per month pack of sixty channels. Analyst Craig Moffett says that the programming cost for the base package is thirty dollars per month. This, together with the subscriber acquisition costs, processing fee of the credit card, and the streaming costs, will give only negative margins to AT&T.

Experts also say that AT&T will not be able to drop some of the channels from their low priced packages. Dropping channels would risk the customer base and would likely break contracts made with the various media companies. Many networks like ESPN from Disney have pushed to include their channels in to lowest tier of pay-TV bundles to control the loss of subscribers. If AT&T wishes to keep the prices low and make more profit, then they will need to drop a whole list of channels.

During their press conference, an AT&T spokesperson said that the DirecTV Now service targets the 20 million Americans who are not part of any of the pay TV services. These are people who do not have credit scores to qualify for any pay TV subscription plan, live in buildings where U-Verse or DirecTV does not serve, or make changes to their living conditions and situations too often for long term contracts to work. DirecTV Now looks to serve those who look for cheap television options, and want cable, but cannot get one.

01 Dec

The Most Attractive Package Of DirecTV Now Will Be A Money Loser For AT&T

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DirecTV Now Packages

AT&T is prepared to shake up the pay TV business by launching DirecTV Now service. Analysts say that the aggressive pricing of AT&T’s internet streaming service could steal customers away from OTT rivals like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue and cable TV networks.

DirecTV Now service is designed to make the process of buying a mobile oriented TV, much fast and cheap than traditional satellite TV or cable TV services. There are no contracts, no installation or credit checks to get the service. However, analysts believe that the most popular bundle from DirecTV Now will the one with lowest margin.

The entry-level “Live a Little” bundle in DirecTV Now offers 60+ channels in a pricing of 35 dollars a month. At this price point, AT&T will lose money when the costs of subscriber acquisitions are taken into account. Besides that, AT&T is also offering free Amazon Fire Stick and Apple TV devices as incentives when users prepay for the service for 3 months or more. These costs together with customer service and support expenses might make the “Live a Little” bundle non-profitable for AT&T.

As per the per channel fee estimates by SNL Kagan, baseline bundle programming will cost thirty dollars a month. This means that the starter packages from DirecTV Now will have a negative operating margin. “Put simply, they aren’t going to make any money (on the base package),” Analysts Moffett and Nathanson said. “We don’t expect DirecTV Now to be such a runaway hit that it wrecks the market as we know it. But it would be a mistake to dismiss it as a non-event at its new pricing. It is still dangerous… both to the ecosystem and, most of all, to AT&T itself.”

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AT&T Streaming Service

The pricing structure of DirecTV Now reinforces the statement that the primary purpose of AT&T with the OTT product is to use it as a boost to their wireless business, as their wireless business has not shown much growth in the past quarters. AT&T’s plan is to make it attractive to buy both the services, because wireless customers of AT&T will have DirecTV Now streaming excluded from data caps.

Experts believe that AT&T will lose money with their special introductory offer of hundred channels for 35 dollars, even though they have not specified how long this promotional pricing will be available. Some even say that at pricing of 35 dollars, the package will have a negative operating margin of more than 7%.

“If the base $35 bundle is compelling enough, it could be quite attractive for consumers relative to the enhanced basic packs, which are at the heart of the churn-reduction strategy at companies like Charter, especially when combined with unlimited wireless data and no monthly set-top box costs,” Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar wrote.

15 Nov

Pay TV Providers Suffer Major Subscriber Loss In Q3

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Subscriber Loss In Q3

The trends in Q3 has not been that great for US pay-TV providers, as they suffered a major loss of approximately half million subscribers during the period. And many experts are attributing the subscriber loss count to the boom of streaming services.

Research firm MoffettNathanson recently submitted a report, which revealed that the net subscriber loss suffered by pay-TV providers in Q3 was approximately same as last year. However, cable has managed to continue their steady improvements even during Q3. They have managed to control their losses to just 0.4 percentages and they have done extremely well since the year 2010.

On the other hand, Telco IPTV subscriptions declined from a positive 2.6% to an 11.7% loss in just a year. Reports indicate that DirecTV has managed to perform well when compared to their prime competitor, Dish Network. However, reports also stated that the migrations from AT&T’s U-Verse IPTV are one of the major reasons behind these results.

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No One Watching TV

In their Q3 report, MoffettNathanson said that, “The transition of U-Verse customers to DirecTV at AT&T naturally makes satellite look better and the Telco category look worse than would otherwise be the case.” The firm also added that still “the share shifts here are breathtaking. Just two years ago, the Telcos were growing subscribers at 9.8%.”

In the over-the-top (OTT) category, AT&T had recently announced that they would launch their latest online steaming service, DirecTV Now, by the end of November. Hulu is also planning to launch their streaming service in the next year. Apart from that, no major new streaming services were launched or no major channel lineup changes were declared. Still many experts blame streaming services for the loss of pay TV subscribers.

“Perhaps predictably, then, trends were largely unchanged. With new household formation almost the same as last year as well, there simply aren’t a lot of big takeaways in this quarter’s data,” MoffettNathanson reported. “We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the coming post-election changeover in Washington.”

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