A Foolish Week of Telecom

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As Mark Twain is reported to have written, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Or, to paraphrase this quote in an imagined statement from LG, "Contrary to what has been written in the Korea Herald and re-reported in the telecom media, LG is not abandoning Microsoft's Windows Phone."

An actual quote from an LG spokesman, according to Pocket-Lint: "None of it is true. ... We are still on board with Windows Phone, but right now, we're focusing on Android because that's where the demand is."


This sounds like an "I'm behind you 110%" endorsement. In other words, Microsoft should not stop worrying about losing LG, at least as a result of that rebuttal.

And what about Nokia?
Speaking of Windows Phone, Nokia (NYS: NOK) , the phone maker that has essentially bet its future -- at least in the smartphone marketplace -- on its partnership with Microsoft in developing Windows Phone handsets, should be sweating bullets over that lukewarm affirmation from LG.

The Finnish company has lately become the Kim Kardashian of phone makers; it just can't stop getting into the news, and not in the best way. As reported here and at other news outlets, Nokia's poor first-quarter earnings, combined with a cooler-than-hoped-for reception for its Lumia phones -- especially after the over-the-top ad campaign calling its competition mere beta-tester phones just before its own phone had an embarrassing software glitch at its U.S. launch -- have kept the company's face quite red (as in red ink).

Nokia on the offensive
At least on the patent front, Nokia is making a fight of it. The company has filed patent-infringement lawsuits in U.S. and Germany against HTC, Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) , and ViewSonic. Nokia's patents cover such technologies as dual-function antennas, power management, and multimode radios.

"Many of these inventions are fundamental to Nokia products," Nokia said in a statement. "[W]e will not tolerate the unauthorized use of our inventions."

HTC pushed back, saying in its statement, "We fully respect innovation and intellectual properties."

No, not Nokia again!
Just a quick note here to say that Samsung has taken over Nokia's crown as the largest cell-phone maker on the planet.

iPhone, iPhone, Android
This is not a trick question. Which smartphone outsells the competition at the top three U.S. carriers? Yup, Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPhone is the winner here, by a margin of 2-to-1, according to Wireless Intelligence. AT&T (NYS: T) sold almost half of all first-quarter iPhone sales in the United States. That was more than 78% of its own smartphones sales. Verizon iPhone sales made up 51% of its smartphone sales, and 76% of the smartphones Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) sold were iPhones.

My pad or yours?
I guess it's not surprising that Apple's iPad is still sitting on top of the tablet-computing heap, even as it shipped only 11.8 million iPads in the first quarter, down from 15.4 million in the previous three months. But Android-powered tablets had an even steeper decline. Apple now controls 68% of the tablet marketplace, according to International Data Corp.

Who needs competition?
Once again, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson is railing against the government's blockage of his company's proposed merger with T-Mobile. The failure of that deal to go through, Stephenson told an audience at the Milken Institute's annual global conference earlier this week, will mean higher prices for consumers.

At the rate that wireless data usage is increasing, Stephenson said, "We're running out of the airwaves that this traffic rides on." And competition among wireless carriers is just going to make the situation worse, he said: "The more competitors you have, the less efficient the allocation of spectrum will be."

And for AT&T customers upset that the carrier abandoned its unlimited-data plans, Stephenson suggested they blame those that killed the merger -- i.e., the government, not the company.

I always thought, though, that competition would help keep consumer costs down.

There's gold in them thar wires
AT&T has other troubles -- namely, copper rustlers. Yes, thieves have been knocking down utility poles in Fresno, Calif., and stealing the company's copper cabling. The thievery isn't limited to California: AT&T said last August that Alabama was the state with the highest rate of copper theft from its network. There are also problems in Atlanta and Texas.

The company is offering a $10,000 reward for any information resulting in the arrest and conviction of the Fresno varmints.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorDan Radovskyowns shares of AT&T and Nokia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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