A Foolish Week of Telecom
Has AT&T given up?
The weight of two federal 900-pound gorillas may have finally been too much for AT&T (NYS: T) to fight off. Last Friday, the Department of Justice asked for a stay of the court proceedings in its antitrust lawsuit aimed at stopping AT&T's merger with T-Mobile. Why? Because, the DOJ reasoned, AT&T's withdrawal of its merger application from the Federal Communications Commission last month made the case moot.
AT&T, surprising watchers with an about-face from its previous staunchly held position of wanting an expedited trial, also asked the judge for a postponement. The company said in a statement that it and T-Mobile need "time to evaluate all options."
The FCC's negative staff report from last month also tipped the scales toward slowing AT&T.
While she was at it, the judge postponed suits brought against AT&T by Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) and C-Spire Wireless.
What about T-Mobile?
DISH Network (NAS: DISH) is interested in a deal with T-Mobile if the merger doesn't go through as originally planned. DISH CEO Joseph Clayton told Bloomberg that his company would be very happy to get into sharing some of its wireless spectrum with T-Mobile in exchange for some help in building out a national wireless network.
"We've got expertise in satellite TV, and we will in satellite broadband," Clayton said. "The voice part, we'll need some help with."
A deal worked out between DISH and T-Mobile would seem more possible now that potential rivals -- cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks -- have committed to a blockbuster deal with Verizon (NYS: VZ) .
It's LTE time
Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) finally got what it's been saying it needed to stay alive: funding. It cleared $715.5 million with the closing of its new stock offering Monday. That money will be used "for Clearwire to achieve its long-term business plan of creating the first wide-channel TD-LTE 4G network in the U.S.," according to Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch.
Sprint bought $331.4 million worth of shares to help Clearwire in its efforts - and it wasn't for altruistic reasons. Sprint needs an LTE network ASAP to be competitive with the big carriers, and with its LTE arrangement with LightSquared not looking good, Clearwire has become Mr. Better-Than-Nothing.
Speaking of LightSquared, its proposed hybrid LTE network, one made up of satellites and ground stations, has been under fire from GPS companies since a study last summer showed that the network interfered with GPS signals. The FCC said it wouldn't permit LightSquared to operate until the interference worries were put to rest.
The company made several concessions, such as operating in a lower block of frequencies, but recent tests have still shown problems. The Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation said in a statement that the testing "did show that LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of other tested general purpose GPS receivers." The Federal Aviation Administration separately found that the network also interfered "with a flight safety system designed to warn pilots of approaching terrain."
It sounds like Sprint made a good move by helping out Clearwire.
Best friends forever?
T-Mobile is the first U.S. carrier to make one of Nokia's (NYS: NOK) newest smartphones available. The Lumia 710 is powered -- like its fuller-featured sibling, the Lumia 800 -- by Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone operating system. After becoming a smartphone non-entity in the U.S. with its homegrown Symbian mobile operating system, Nokia has a lot resting on how well of a showing its new phones make.
AT&T has been rumored to be testing out the phones, but Verizon has made it clear that without LTE capability, it's not interested.
Jan. 11 is the scheduled launch date for the T-Mobile Lumia 710.
The pot calling the kettle black
If you can't beat 'em, diss 'em. That seems to be Microsoft's strategy in getting its Windows Phone OS into the mainstream of smartphone operating systems. Taking advantage of Google's move to cull a few dozen apps from the Android Market this week because of a malware panic, Microsoft evangelist Ben Rudolph tweeted that anyone affected by "No. droidrage" should share their story and maybe win a "No. windowsphone."
Couple that marketing ploy with remarks earlier this week from Nokia executive Niels Munksgaard, who, obviously pushing his company's newest Windows Phone handset in the U.S. market, said that kids are "pretty much fed up with iPhones." He also took a swipe at Android, saying, "Many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security."
Listening to Microsoft call out other companies for having a product with security holes is pretty rich.
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Until next week ...
At the time this article was published Fool contributorDan Radovskyowns shares of AT&T. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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