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AT&T gets approval for spectrum purchase while Verizon deal faces investigation

AT&T has been given the go-ahead to acquire spectrum from Qualcomm

US operator AT&T has been granted approval from regulators for its plans to go ahead with a $ 1.93bn deal to acquire spectrum from Qualcomm, just days after its planned merger with T-Mobile USA collapsed.

AT&T will purchase 6MHz of spectrum across the country in the 700MHz band, as well as another 6MHz of spectrum in five major metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Unlike the T-Mobile merger, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ruled that this purchase “would not result in competitive harm that would outweigh the public interest benefits of this transaction”.

AT&T announced its plans to buy the spectrum in December last year, just weeks before announcing the much larger-scale proposed deal to acquire T-Mobile USA for $ 39 billion, with both deals stimulated by a shortage of spectrum in the country.

Meanwhile, rival Verizon Wireless is to have a spectrum deal of its own investigated by authorities. The US Justice Department has confirmed that it is looking into a spectrum deal struck between Verizon Wireless and three US cable companies, and analysing any anti-competitive effects it may have on the telecommunications industry.

The operator recently announced plans to spend $ 3.6bn on 122 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licences from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, in a bid to boost its LTE offering.

The cable companies also announced that they have entered into several agreements with Verizon, providing for the sale of various products and services.

However, there are concerns that the deal creates a relationship between companies that had been competing, which could be perceived as anti-competitive to the rest of the market. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

European telecoms reform faces delay

The European Commission has said that its proposals to reform of the EU telecoms market are unlikely to gain approval before September or October 2014

The European Commission has said that its proposals to reform of the EU telecoms market are unlikely to gain approval before September or October 2014

Further restrictions on European roaming charges are now likely to be introduced in September or October, rather than July as originally planned. In its initial proposals to reform the EU telecoms market, the European Commission intended to ban incoming call charges for roaming citizens within the region by July 1st 2014.

“We won’t have the sign off from the national governments of the EU member states in July,” an EC spokesman told to “It’ll certainly be in 2014, but it’s much more likely we’ll see it finalised in September and October.”

The spokesman said that the EC is confident that the package will remain intact structurally but admitted that it is likely that there will be some compromises made on its way to gaining approval from EU committees and member state governments.

“It won’t look exactly how we wrote it, but we’re confident that it will stay roughly together the way we wanted it and that we’ll get it finished by October,” he said.

“We’re not too concerned if that’s a little bit delayed, what matters is that we get the final agreement and we’re on track to do that in September.”

The proposals are already fully supported by the EC and in the next stage, they will be sent to the European Parliament, where various committees will examine them and offer suggestions and amendments. Then in April 2014, all 700 MEPs will take a vote on the proposals. The proposals will then be sent on to member state governments.

“The first real step is April when you get the full parliament giving a vote,” said the spokesman. “Then you know exactly what you’re negotiating with with the member states. They will then carry out those negotiations over the two months that follow.”

A qualified majority of member states – 20 out of the 28 – must vote for the proposals for them to gain approval, and the member states will decide between them when the vote will take place. The EC claims this is likely to happen at a meeting in September or October.

Once the proposals are approved, it will officially become EU law, and member states will have to fully implement the proposals.

Apple faces iPhone and iPad ban in Germany

Apple's iPhones and iPads could be banned in Germany

Apple faces the prospect of having its iPad and iPhone devices banned in Germany, just months after securing a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country with a similar ruling.

Motorola Mobility, which is the subject of a prospective takeover by Google, won a ruling in a German court against Apple’s European sales company, Ireland-based Apple Sales International, based on a patent relating to a “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system”.

The Court has granted Motorola Mobility’s requests for an injunction and damages, the company said. The news will come as validation for Google, which is pursuing the business primarily for its patent portfolio.

“We will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our intellectual property, as our patent portfolio and licensing agreements with companies both in the U.S. and around the world are critical to our business,” said Scott Offer, senior vice president and general counsel of Motorola Mobility.

“We have been negotiating with Apple and offering them reasonable licensing terms and conditions since 2007, and will continue our efforts to resolve our global patent dispute as soon as practicable.”

Unsurprisingly, Apple announced plans to appeal the decision.”We’re going to appeal the court’s ruling right away,” read a statement from the firm emailed to Dow Jones Newswire. “Holiday shoppers in Germany should have no problem finding the iPad or iPhone they want.”

The move is the latest twist in an ongoing patent saga between Apple and Google’s Android hardware partners.

Apple recently failed to secure a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, after an Australian High Court rejected an appeal to keep the device off shelves. It was also denied a preliminary injunction to block the sale of Samsung’s touchscreen smartphones and tablets in the US, while Samsung too lost out in its attempts to ban sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S device in France. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Egypt’s Naguib Sawiris Faces Probe into US Election Donations

Egyptian telecoms billionaire, Naguib Sawiris has been accused of making an illegal political donation to a group affiliated with the 2012 Republican US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Click here for more.


America Movil faces challenges as Latin America’s telecoms sector evolves

While cutting debt and reducing capital spending will help offset pressure on its credit profile, intense competition and slower industry growth are a threat. Click here for more.

Cellular News

Microsoft faces bribe allegations in Russia and Pakistan

bribeSoftware giant Microsoft is facing bribery allegations in Russia and Pakistan. The firm said it is cooperating with the US government to investigate whether Microsoft employees and business partners have engaged in illegal activity in the two markets.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are extending existing investigations into similar allegations in China, Romania and Italy.

It reported that an anonymous tipster has now told Microsoft about its software resellers in Russia allegedly bribing executives of a state-owned firm to win a deal and in Pakistan it has been alleged that Microsoft authorised a consulting firm to pay for a five-day trip to Egypt for a government official and his wife in order to win a tender.

“We take every allegation seriously, and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries,” said John Frank, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.

“Like other large companies with operations around the world, we sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners, and we investigate them fully, regardless of the source. We also invest heavily in proactive training, monitoring and audits to ensure our business operations around the world meet the highest legal and ethical standards.”

Frank added that Microsoft has more than 50 people whose primary role is investigating potential breaches of company policy, and an additional 120 people whose primary role is compliance.

“This is a reflection of the size and complexity of our business, and the seriousness with which we take meeting our obligations,” he added.

SK Telecom chairman faces four-year prison sentence

South Korean operator SK Telecom’s chairman Chey Tae-won has been handed a four-year jail sentence after being found guilty of stealing close to $ 50m from the company. The ruling came as the country’s president-elect vowed tougher action against the nation’s corrupt business leaders.

In previous years, executives at South Korean firms including Samsung, Hyundai and Hanwha had only been given suspended sentences when found guilty of corruption.

It will not be the first prison sentence Chey has served. In 2003, he was convicted for fraud and spent several months in jail, although this did not prevent him from returning to the chairmanship of the operator.

“As the head of SK, which has a large influence on the nation’s economy, Chey Tae-won should be an example of corporate governance and transparency … but instead embezzled several tens of billions of won in affiliates’ funds and tried to pass on the responsibility to the other defendants,” Seoul’s Central District Court’s Judge Lee Won-beom said in his ruling, according to news agency Reuters.

SK Group, the operator’s holding company, said that Chey Tae-won would appeal the ruling. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Verizon Wireless Faces $1 Billion Lawsuit from Phone Retailer

ZCom Wireless, which says it is the largest reseller of Verizon Wireless services in New York has filed a lawsuit against the company, seeking US$ 1 billion in damages. Click here for more.