Published: 24/03/2017
Author: RCR Wireless

Congress applied pressure to Sprint and SoftBank to avoid Huawei, while T-Mobile USA launched its LTE network … 4 years ago this week.

Congress pressures SoftBank and Sprint Nextel on Huawei
House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) says SoftBank and Sprint Nextel are telling his committee they will try to phase out Chinese network equipment used by Clearwire. Sprint owns the majority of Clearwire and is trying to buy the rest. The concern about Chinese equipment arises from a recent Congressional warning about potential national security risks. That report named Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE as possible threats, and Huawei is a supplier of network equipment to Clearwire. Japan’s SoftBank, which is in the process of buying a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel, is also a Huawei customer. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington may not approve the SoftBank-Sprint deal unless the companies promise to notify the government about planned core network equipment purchases. … Read more

T-Mobile USA to offer iPhone 5 off contract, launches LTE
T-Mobile USA is shaking up wireless pricing, offering the iPhone 5 off-contract starting April 12. The nation’s fourth largest carrier is the last of the big four to get the iPhone, but it’s getting it in a big way. Consumers will be able to get the latest iPhone for $99, and then will pay $20 per month for 24 months. After that they’ll own the phone. Users will have to pay for service on top of that, but T-Mobile has cut those prices as well. T-Mobile’s new “Simple Choice” pricing was unveiled yesterday “If you come to T-Mobile you have signed your last contract. They are gone. No more,” said T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere at a press conference today. … Read more

T-Mobile USA launches new pricing; LTE network could be nation’s fastest
T-Mobile USA is rolling out its new no-contract pricing just as the latest tests of its LTE network are showing speeds that could be the fastest in the country. Tests show download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second. The nation’s fourth-largest carrier, which is on track to merge with MetroPCS, has three new plans: 500 MB of high-speed data for $50/month (with speeds throttling back to 2G speeds after 500 MB), 2.5 GB for $60/month with throtting, and unlimited 4G data (wherever T-Mobile USA’s network offers 4G) for $70/month. All three plans include smartphone mobile hotspot service. The carrier has adjusted its device pricing to reflect the new service offerings, and is also encouraging users to bring their own devices to its network. … Read more

FirstNet: Progress on pilot project negotiations
FirstNet is making progress in its negotiations with seven public safety pilot projects that are to be folded in under the umbrella of its future national first-responder LTE network. The recipients of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grants had their funding partially suspended when the FirstNet board was created, to ensure a blank slate for the national network. But FirstNet board member Sue Swenson was tasked with negotiating use of FirstNet’s 700 MHz spectrum leases and plans for each network to eventually be subsumed by the larger, nationwide project. … Read more

BlackBerry surprises Wall Street
BlackBerry surprised Wall Street with a small profit during the fourth quarter, and said that it has already shipped a million Z10 smartphones. The Z10 is BlackBerry’s new touchscreen phone based on its new BB 10 operating system. Although the new phone has just gone on sale in the United States, it was available in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates during the last part of the fourth quarter. CEO Thorstein Heins estimated today that roughly two thirds of the million Z10 phones shipped have been sold to customers. Heins said demand for the Z10 has been “better than expected” but that the company continues to find itself in a “challenging environment.” Nonetheless Canada’s struggling smartphone maker earned $94 million, or 18 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $118 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected a loss for the this quarter. … Read more

Oracle to buy Tekelec
Oracle continues to make its way aggessively into telecom software, this time with the purchase of Tekelec, a provider of diameter signaling and policy control solutions. Tekelec has been privately held for just over a year; it was taken private in January 2012 by Siris Capital in a deal that valued the company at $780 million. Analysts at Exact Ventures expect the market for diameter signaling controllers to grow about 50% a year through 2017, propelled by the accelerating pace of LTE rollouts. The firm says that Tekelec currently has a 75% – 85% market share. … Read more

FCC Chairman Genachowski announces plans to step down
Following weeks of speculation, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced today that he would be holding a meeting with staff members to inform them he would be leaving his position in the “coming weeks.” Genachowski’s announcement follows that of fellow commissioner Robert McDowell, who announced earlier this week that he would be leaving the FCC “sometime soon.” … Read more

Report: Verizon, AT&T mull $245B acquisition of Vodafone
You may want to be sitting down for this one, and have some salt handy. The Financial Times is reporting that Verizon Communications and AT&T are jointly seeking a potential acquisition of Vodafone Group for $245 billion. The deal would provide Verizon with 100% control over Verizon Wireless, which Vodafone currently has a 45% stake in, while AT&T would take over Vodafone’s international operations. Citing “usually reliable people,” the report said the deal would be priced at a 40% premium over Vodafone’s stock price and out-number AOL’s $182 billion eventually fatal acquisition of Time Warner. … Read more

MetroPCS looks to keep T-Mobile USA deal on track
Despite recent objections from a prominent investors and advisors, MetroPCS continues to believe that its pending merger with T-Mobile USA remains the best way for investors to see a financial gain. MetroPCS this morning sent out a letter to investors stating that they should vote in favor of the current deal that will see the carrier gain control of 26% of the combined operations for approximately $1.5 billion paid to MetroPCS investors. MetroPCS shareholders are scheduled to vote on the proposed deal on April 12. … Read more

Cisco to buy Ubiquisys
Cisco continued its move into mobility this week with the purchase of Ubiquisys for $310 million. Ubiquisys is a British developer of small cell technologies with several major carrier and vendor customers, including Google, T-Mobile USA and Softbank. The acquisition highlights Cisco’s growing focus on mobile networks in general and network software in particular. The company said it was attracted to Ubiquisys because of the company’s small cell technologies and its “focus on intelligent software.” … Read more