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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

Verizon Wireless completes spectrum purchase

Verizon Wireless' proposed spectrum purchase deals have been approved by the FCC

US carrier Verizon Wireless has secured approval for its purchase of 122 AWS spectrum licences from cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks for $ 3.6bn.

It will also complete transactions with Leap Wireless, Savary Island Wireless and T-Mobile, after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), approved the deals.

Verizon Wireless said that by buying the AWS spectrum, it can bring even better 4G LTE products and services to its customers.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) had given qualified approval to the operator’s plan to purchase the spectrum  from the cable operators, but stated that the terms of the agreements to offer one another’s services must change. The DoJ said that the plan as hatched “would have harmed competition by diminishing the companies’ incentive to compete.”

Now that the amended deal has been given final approval, Verizon Wireless will move forward with its previously announced plan to sell its 700 MHz lower A and B block spectrum licenses.

“We expect a very robust sales process as more than 65 parties have requested and received information about the spectrum we are selling,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless. “Selling the A and B licenses will allow this spectrum to be used to the benefit of other carriers and their customers.” – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

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Voda gets green light for CWW purchase

The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns

The European Commission on Tuesday cleared the proposed acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide by Vodafone Group clearing away the final hurdle for the deal to go ahead.

The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns, as the companies’ activities are largely complementary. “CWW’s main activity is related to fixed telecoms, whereas Vodafone is mainly active in mobile telecoms,” the EC said.

Although Vodafone and CWW’s activities overlap in a number of markets such as in the fixed and mobile markets in the UK, the Commission found that the impact of the transaction on these markets is likely to be small as the combined entity would continue to face significant competition.

“Vodafone would be able to use the assets of CWW in delivering fixed-mobile combined services to end-users. However, the Commission’s investigation showed that the parties would not be able to shut out fixed or mobile operators from the markets for combined fixed-mobile services, because of the parties’ lack of sufficient market power. Operators sell bundled fixed and mobile services via fixed or mobile resale agreements or partnerships and will still be able to do so in the future,” the Commission said.

“Moreover, joint purchasing of mobile and fixed as one package has been the exception, rather than the rule, up to now. Finally, telecoms regulators have the possibility to, and also do intervene in some of the markets concerned and can therefore constrain the merged entity,” the authority added.

CWW’s fibre network covers 56 per cent of the UK population and the firm’s international cable network stretches to more than 150 countries, either directly or indirectly through its business partners.

Vodafone will be able to use CWW’s network for its backhaul, for which it currently relies on BT, when the deal is finalised. The company reportedly pays BT in the region of £200m a year to lease fixed telecoms lines, but its deal with CWW would alleviate this dependency. Vodafone said that this was a major factor in its decision to bid for CWW, claiming that its network can provide backhaul of data at “considerably lower cost compared to prevailing market rates for leased capacity.

The operator group’s £1.04bn bid was in doubt of being accepted after investment group Orbis, which owns 19 per cent of CWW, voiced its opposition to the takeover. However, the firm has since backed down and now believes that the bid will eventually succeed, even if Orbis were to vote against it. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Yahoo continues buying spree with Qwiki purchase

Qwiki specialises in micro video

Qwiki specialises in micro video

Yahoo continued its acquisition spree on Tuesday, jumping on the micro video bandwagon with the acquisition of Qwiki. The US startup has iPad and iPhone tools that turn a user’s photos and videos into short movie montages.

Pricing and fine details of the acquisition were not revealed but Yahoo has said that it will continue to support the Qwiki app.

The move comes in the wake of a flurry of interest in short form video, since Facebook-owned Instagram last week launched 15 second video clip capabilities and saw users publish more than five million videos in the first 24 hours. Then of course there’s Twitter’s Vine offering.

It’s also a wonder where Yahoo got the Qwiki cash from. Just over a month ago the company moved to acquire blogging platform Tumblr for $ 1.1bn in cash.

According to Yahoo’s latest financials, cash, cash equivalents, and investments in marketable debt securities totalled $ 5.4bn as of March 31, 2013 compared to $ 6bn as of December 31, 2012. Yet actual cash only totalled $ 1.2bn, so this latest acquisition must have wiped out Yahoo’s liquid reserves. The firm also acquired UK startup Summly in March for around $ 30m.

In some ways these acquisitions are seen as a last ditch attempt to keep Yahoo relevant and CEO Marissa Meyer made a promise during the Tumblr announcement “not to screw it up.

But the big question now is how these moves fit in with Yahoo’s other similar-sounding, picture-focused blogging social site, Flickr. Mayer had said that the photo sharing site was a top priority for investment in an attempt to regain lost ground on rivals Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram. It remains to be seen how that will play out now the money has been spent and the company has three photo focused networks in its stable.

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