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#TBT: Sprint’s totally gonna bid on T-Mo; LTE picks up speed; dropping device subsidies … this week in 2014

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Wearables and ‘glassholes’
If you want to understand the future of wearable technology, and the implications for corporate IT, don’t hang around Google Glass developer conferences. Instead, go to Disneyworld, where visitors gladly wear colorful smart “Magic Bands” that let them do everything from unlock their hotel rooms to get into rides and buy food. Visitors get the convenience of traveling more lightly, while Disney gets up to the minute information on everything from the length of the lines at Space Mountain to how well vanilla shakes are selling at Epcot. Or go to the Vail ski resort, where I was recently, and check out their EpicMix program, in which visitors wear an RF-equipped pass that tracks the vertical feet they’ve skied, earn pins for tackling various challenges and race against their friends. The three critical takeaways from these examples: Wearable technology can’t be clunky; 2) it has to offer an apparent and immediate benefit; and rather than one general-purpose device like Google Glass, it will take the form of multiple, single-purpose devices like smart wristbands. … Read more

Sprint gets ready to make an offer on T-Mo!
Published reports, citing inside sources, claim Sprint is on the verge of putting in a $32 billion offer to acquire smaller rival T-Mobile US. Several sources claim the deal will include an offer of $40 per share, or roughly a 17% premium over T-Mobile US’ closing price on Wednesday. The offer would be coming from Sprint owner Softbank, which is controlled by its Chairman Masayoshi Son, with a majority of the offer going to T-Mobile US parent company Deutsche Telekom, which owns roughly 70% of the operations. Reports surfaced last week that DT had indeed accepted an offer from Softbank for its stake in T-Mobile US. Analysts seemed to think that rumored amount was on the low side, noting that something closer to $50 per share would seem more reasonable. In 2011, the federal government rejected AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile US – which was approved by DT – citing competitive concerns. … Read more

Telecom leadership evolves
The leadership landscape is changing for many mobile operators, driven by escalating customer demands and intensifying competition from over-the-top services. Many vendors and suppliers are finding that they need to address corporate decision makers from more than one part of the carrier organization. Oracle recently shared its insights on these changes. The software giant’s 2013 purchase of Tekelec has given it increased visibility into a number of service provider organizations, some of which were already Oracle IT customers. Last week at TM Forum Live, Oracle’s Gordon Rawlings talked with RCR Wireless News about how the mobile consumer is driving changes in the leadership of telecom organizations. He said that one of the biggest shifts is the increasing power of the chief marketing officer. “The days of the passive marketing director, in terms of accepting services, are gone,” he said. “The CMOs today typically are P&L owners and are very driven to try and offer and differentiate their services.” Rawlings added that CMOs are eager to trial and launch new services and are pushing IT departments to remove the barriers. … Read more

LTE picks up speed
LTE reached 245 million global connections during the first quarter of 2014, more than doubling in a 12-month period, according to the latest numbers from Informa Telecoms & Media and 4G Americas. North American LTE subscriptions continued to dominate the LTE market, accounting for 115 million of the total, or 47%. However, those 115 million connections only accounted for 30% of the 387 million total mobile subscriptions in North America at the end of the first quarter. And despite its rapid growth, LTE’s total global subscribers only make up 4% of cellular connections worldwide, according to 4G Americas. LTE has been deployed in 294 networks in 106 countries around the world, and there are more than 1,500 LTE commercial devices available in 154 countries, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association’s most recent figures. … Read more

Time Warner teams up with Boingo
Time Warner Cable has teamed up with Boingo Wireless (WIFI) in a Wi-Fi roaming deal that will give its customers access to some of the nation’s hottest hotspots. Time Warner (TWX) Internet customers will get access to Boingo’s routers in more than 100 highly trafficked areas, including 23 of the nation’s largest airports and several New York subway stations. Boingo customers get access to an additional 35,000 Time Warner hotspots nationwide, which should add significant value to the Boingo offering. This is Boingo’s first roaming agreement with a cable company. Time Warner operates the nation’s largest Passpoint-enabled network of Wi-Fi access points. Passpoint is the Wi-Fi Alliance’s certification for equipment that supports HotSpot 2.0, which allows registered mobile device users to connect to Wi-Fi networks without entering a password. Later this year, Time Warner and Boingo will complete a Passpoint-enabled integration so that customers can move seamlessly from one network to the other. … Read more

What’s Next for device sales? (Spoiler: Dropping device subsidies)
AT&T has been aggressively promoting its Next program to smartphone buyers, and that effort appears to be paying off. This week the nation’s second largest carrier says that roughly half its smartphone sales are now part of its device financing program, with about 3.2 million handsets sold through the Next program during the second quarter. The company also said yesterday that it expects about 800,000 postpaid subscriber net adds for Q2, and that about one half of its postpaid smartphone subscribers are now on its Mobile Share plans, and that it expects two thirds to be there by the end of the year. AT&T said that as customers move to Next and Mobile Share, equipment revenues are rising as service revenues and ARPU decline. AT&T expects service revenue to be flat for the second quarter. Carriers usually have more control over service pricing than they do over device pricing, so AT&T and its competitors are all looking for ways to boost this service revenue. Options include proprietary offerings for customers and revenue share agreements with content providers. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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