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#TBT: Wheeler tapped to head FCC; Clearwire moves closer to acquisition; What’s next for T-Mo? … this week in 2013

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 those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Wheeler nominated to head the FCC

President Obama followed through on expectations today in nominating wireless industry veteran and former lobbyist Tom Wheeler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler would be replacing current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced today that he will be leaving by the middle of the month. Genachowski announced in late March plans to step down as chairman having served in that capacity since 2009. The move followed a similar announcement from Commissioner Robert McDowell, who was originally appointed to the FCC in 2006 by then President George W. Bush. Many have noted that it’s not unusual for both a democrat and republican member of the FCC to be replaced on the commission at the beginning of a new presidential term. In the interim, Obama has designated current FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as acting chairman while Wheeler’s nomination goes through the confirmation process. That process is expected to take several months, in which time the FCC is expected to rule on Softbank’s pending acquisition of Sprint Nextel as well as AT&T’s pending acquisition of 700 MHz spectrum assets from Verizon Wireless. … Read more

Facebook makes inroads in mobile

Shares of Facebook (FB) are higher today after the company reported progress in its move to mobile. Mobile advertising revenue represented 30% of total ad revenue, according to the company’s first quarter earnings release. That’s up from 23% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Analyst Larry Haverty of Gabelli Multimedia Trust told financial reporters that he thinks all the increase in ad spending over the next few years will go to Google and Facebook. RBC’s Mark Mahaney says overall ad revenue growth of 43% year-on-year has helped convince him to rate the stock an outperform. He also notes that recent evidence is suggesting that ads on mobile devices may now be as effective as ads on desktops, meaning that firms like Facebook and Google could be able to charge more for mobile ads going forward. “Facebook’s ad revenue is huge – it’s larger than almost any company in the advertising space, and growing,” said Krishna Subramanian, CMO of Velti, a mobile advertising and marketing firm. “But mobile ad revenue is still a concern and is lagging significantly behind mobile use: 60% of Facebook sessions are initiated on mobile devices.” … Read more

Clearwire committee officially approves acquisition by Sprint Nextel

Clearwire looks to have officially endorsed its pending acquisition by Sprint Nextel, with a “special committee” set up by the carrier sending a letter out this morning to investors recommending they vote in favor of the $2.2 billion deal. The vote is scheduled for May 21. The special committee was set up earlier this year when Dish Network put in a counter-bid for Clearwire. However, Dish does not appear to be done in this scenario as it has also put in a $25.5 billion bid for a 68% stake in Sprint Nextel itself countering a $20.1 billion bid put in last year by Softbank for a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel. Softbank last week laid out various reasons why its offer was superior for Sprint Nextel shareholders. Sprint Nextel has noted that its pending acquisition of Clearwire is linked to its own acquisition by Softbank. The special committee sites a number of reasons in endorsing the Sprint Nextel offer, most of which revolved around the immediacy of the offer, Clearwire’s ongoing inability to find new funding and, perhaps most importantly, Sprint Nextel’s current majority stake in Clearwire and the carrier’s comments that it would not approve a sale to another entity. “On the unanimous recommendation of the special committee, the Clearwire board has unanimously concluded that the proposed transaction with Sprint is the best strategic alternative for stockholders, representing fair, attractive and certain value, especially in light of the Company’s limited alternatives and the well-known constraints of its liquidity position,” wrote Clearwire Chairman John Stanton in a note to investors. … Read more

Infra companies hit by network slow-downs

Aruba Networks, Inc. said that that it expects its revenues for the quarter ended April 30 to fall below its guidance, citing delays in customer orders. “In April, we saw a push out in customer orders across the Americas, Europe and Asia,” said Dominic Orr, president and CEO of Aruba. “We attribute this weakness primarily to a challenging economic environment worldwide.” Despite continued rollout of advanced networks in the U.S. and around the world, multiple network companies have experienced slow-downs in the first quarter of this year. Wi-Fi provider Ruckus Wireless did not meet its guidance due in part to delayed deployments in the Americas.  Several companies, including wireless backhaul provider Ceragon, said that longer sales cycles impacted their results last quarter. Ira Palto, president and CEO of Ceragon, said that it’s 18% year-over-year drop in revenue in the first quarter was influenced by operators trying to get a handle on their business models and network evolution. “We are not seeing carriers cancelling or reducing the scope of their planned projects, and the delays in closing deals relate mainly to operator hesitation during a period of reevaluating business models with a network architecture transition on the horizon,” he said. … Read more

Debating T-Mo’s future, fresh off the MetroPCS acquisition

Now that T-Mobile USA has completed its merger with MetroPCS, birthing the newly named T-Mobile US, where does the operator go from here? RCR Wireless News spoke with Weston Henderek, principal analyst of consumer services at Current Analysis, to get his take on the future of T-Mobile US. Sure, both brands are set to continue on in their current iterations, at least for the time being, but at some point decisions will have to be made. Does T-Mobile US continue to position itself as the underdog to the bigger players in Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel? Or, does it shift its focus downward, taking on the value players in the space like Leap Wireless, Tracfone and various mobile virtual network operators. More pressing, if Dish Network’s current attempts to acquire Sprint Nextel or Clearwire – or both – fails, does the newly more independent T-Mobile US become the next target for Charlie Ergen’s wireless ambitions? Operationally pre-merger, T-Mobile USA managed to add 579,000 customers to its network during the first quarter of the year, which was more than triple its customer growth for the first quarter of 2012, and left the carrier with just under 34 million customers at the end of the latest quarter. MetroPCS has lost 482,922 customers over the past year, ending the first quarter of 2013 with just under 9 million total subscribers. First quarter results did show a net gain of 108,668 subscribers, but that result was down 17% from the previous year. … Read more

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


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