Verizon FiOS ESPN 3D for Masters NFL NBA

Watching Golf in 3D is Awesome
Finally an answer to my question, "When Are 3D Channels Coming to Verizon FiOS?"  Verizon FiOS is getting ESPN 3D on Verizon FiOS TV begging April 5 just in time for the Masters on Tuesday, April 5.  Finally sports fans will be able to watch the Masters Golf Tournament and the NBA playoffs on the 3D TV they might have purchased in the last few years.  ESPN 3D is the first 3D network that will be viewable for FiOS TV customers who have a 3D television sets and 3D glasses on HD set-top boxes.  The new channel will be included at no extra charge for FiOS TV customers who subscribe to the Ultimate HD package or on its own for $9.99 per month. What other cable networks that have 3D channels?  Here is a list of other 3D channels

Twins Fans Get Free "TWiFi" at Target Field

Free WiFi at Target Field in Minneapolis
Congratulations to Twins fans who visit Target field in Minneapolis for opening day.  You will be getting free Wi-Fi Internet service will be provided throughout the ballpark.  The Twins are creatively calling it their “TwiFi Network."   Free WiFi at MLB baseball stadiums seems to be a positive new trend in 2011.   The San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves & Arizona Diamondbacks  seem to be leading the pack of stadiums adopting WiFi in 2011. Target Field has a capacity of around 40,000 and will have more than 100 WiFi access points that cumulatively should handle up to 4,000 fans on the Wi-Fi network at once.

Baseball fans have been waiting patiently for the last decade for free Wifi in stadiums to happen but it now appears that teams can now make money with the investment in WiFi using new iPad and smartphone apps.  We want to make sure that these networks are running properly as advertised and would appreciate any feedback on whether the free wireless and cell coverage in and around the stadium are working.  Go to our map and type in the address: 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota 55403.  Add a pin to the map for your carrier in the areas or other for WiFi. 

WiFi & Cell Reception Inside MLB Stadiums

Yankee Stadium IPad App
MLB's opening day is today and thus gives us the opportunity to look at cellular and WiFi reception in stadiums throughout the US.  The San Francisco Giants,  Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins TWifi & Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be leading the teams adopting WiFi in 2011.  While Major League Baseball has a great website and MLB iPad App statistics and fans want to use the application in their seats. However, have the stadiums invested enough in the infrastructure to adequately handle 15,000 to 50,000 people in one concentrated area?  Are Stadiums allowing fans to bring computers and iPads into the stadium for use?  Let's hope so. We want to know if stadiums around MLB are allowing iPads and devices into the stadium for use.

We also would like to know how the WiFI or 3G and 4G cellular coverage is inside the stadium.  It has been reported that carriers will focus on rolling out 4G LTE service in stadiums first.  Stadium coverage has always been an issue for NFL and NBA fans as well.  Some stadiums like Amway Center in Orlando have invested heavily to improve the wireless experience for fans.  Please lets us know how the reception is in your local stadium by clicking on our and by adding a pin in the location of the stadium.  Please contribute comments about the level of congestion and speed of the service.  

Chicago White Sox US Cellular Field 

Will Google Eventually Buy Sprint?

Today, Google announced plans to build a fiber-optic network for Kansas City promising connection speeds around 1 Gps which is 100x faster than the broadband most people are used to. There were 1,100 cities that applied and it's not surprising to see why Google announced the winner a week after the huge merger announcement.  We think Google was trying to buy T-Mobile as well but would not pay anywhere near the $39B that AT&T did.  There is also a great case for Google to buy Verizon FiOS.  Sprint is in big trouble now with the AT&T and T-Mobile acquisition and Google could use both FiOS and Sprint.  

So the big question is this foreshadowing Google buying Sprint?  Why not . . .  Sprint's headquarters are in Overland Park, Kansas which is on the other side of the Missouri River from Kansas City, Missouri. This would not surprise me considering Sprint's stock has been struggling for the last 10 years and its stock is down over 80% while competitors AT&T and Verizon are up almost 40% in the same period. Google's announcement also comes on the heels of AT&T announcing the acquisition of T-Mobile and they are capping data usage.  Clearwire opposes the merger and Sprint opposes the merger and are the wireless leaders in 4G Wimax.  

Why is AT&T Capping Data Usage for DSL & U-Verse Customers?

Free WiFi is AT&T's Biggest Fear! 
Why is AT&T Capping Data Usage on DSL & U-Verse?  AT&T's wants to stop their existing DSL and U-Verse broadband subscribers from opening up their home, office and retail WiFi access points and allowing anonymous users to access broadband for free.  AT&T claims that their top 2% of its 17.8M customers use most of the bandwidth and use this as their excuse for capping data usage.  Other cable companies Comcast and Charter Communications have already rolled out their own limited broadband plans.  I think this about protected a 3G / 4G business that is getting cannibalized by Free WiFi and is total BS for the following reasons . . .

AT&T's biggest fear is that the current grassroots movement of free WiFi hotspots crushes their hopes about getting customers to subscribe to 4G LTE.  AT&T is terrified that their customers will not subscribe to their shoddy 3G and 4G LTE network data services for $60-$100 per month.  Free ad supported WiFi is coming to the US the near future and this is the first step AT&T is making slow down the inevitable. 

Most smart customers are already minimizing their data plans and using free WiFi for data connectivity whenever possible.  Many customers are using WiFi to fill in dead zones and making phone calls on WiFi when AT&T cannot provide voice coverage in areas.  AT&T is simply a dumb pipe and will never be a content rights holder and therefore will eventually have to compete with customers searching for free WiFi access points.  Can 4G LTE compete with Free WiFi?  

The simultaneous timing of this announcement is not surprising as it was overshadowed by their massive announcement that they were acquiring T-Mobile.  AT&T's PR people had hoped the story would get buried in the major news announcement but its important news to   It doesn't surprise me that AT&T is started to get scared about the huge grassroots movement of businesses and broadband subscribers opening up their access points for free use.  WiFi hotspots are growing 25X faster than 3G or 4G cell phone towers.  Why because it is free and doesn't require expensive data plans

AT&T's Army of Investment Bankers: Evercore, JPMorgan, Greenhill

AT&T & T-Mobile investment bankers
It's very important to note which investment banks are helping to AT&T bamboozle Washington politicians into approving this deal.  What goes around comes around and these companies will certainly get a bad case of bad karma blues if this deal closes and they take money to bank the deal.  Here is a list of bankers involved in the deal.

Staying out of this mess might be a blessing in disguise for investment bank Goldman Sachs who apparently is not involved in the merger dealings.  Don't be surprised if the smartest investment bank in the World Goldman Sachs (GS) is on the short side of the JP Morgan bridge loan.  Goldman and hedge funds will make all of the money on the short side as the AT&T house of cards come tumbling down.

Photo of Roger Altman
Should AT&T Trust Roger Altman?
AT&T hired Evercore (EVR) due to a relationship with founder Roger Altman who has strong ties to Washington. Altman, a former deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury, has expanded Evercore, which he founded in New York in 1996, into a more-than-600-employee firm. "Altman called Randall Stephenson (AT&T CEO) and said, I could help you get this through the government," said a source close to AT&T.  Before founding Evercore in 1996, Altman serving as deputy secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton from 1993 to 1994. He also chaired Resolution Trust Corp., a Treasury agency that reimbursed savings and loan victims. Evercore's relationship with AT&T started in 2006 when it advised the company on its $102 billion acquisition of BellSouth. Altman resigned under pressure after allegedly leaking information to the White House about the Whitewater investigation. A source close to Altman said, "He's very close to President Obama." Obama also considered hiring Altman as head of his National Economic Council. Other Evercore bankers include Dan Mendelow & Eduardo Mestre Read in NY Post:

Photo of Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase
Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is helping to finance the bridge loan and is headed by Jamie Dimon.  JP Morgan Bankers include:  Karl-Georg Altenburg, Tammo Buennemeyer, Tom Cassin, Jake Donavan, Andy O’Brien, Kurt Simon, Joachim Sonne, Jim Woolery, Anwar Zakkour
Photo of Robert Greenhill of Greenhill Advisors
Robert Greenhill of Greenhill Advisors
Greenhill & Co (GHL) is AT&T's other advisor in the deal which is a small public investment bank based in Los Angeles.  Greenhill has significant ties to Germany based on their portfolio of deals that have closed.  Bankers include Robert Greenhill, Gil Ha & Lawrence Chu.

On the sell side of the AT&T & T-Mobile transaction Deutsche Telekom has hired investment banks Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse & Deutche Bank.

Morgan Stanley (MS) bankers include:  Jean Abergel, Robert Eatroff, James Murray, Dirk Notheis, Adam Shepard.  

Credit Suisse (CS)  bankers include: Luigi de Vecchi, Ken Oliver Fritz, Jeff Murphy, Mark Simonian, John Trousdale

Deutche Bank (DB) includes: Don Birchenough, Philipp Meier-Scherling, David Pearson, Armin von Falkenhayn

Sprint (S) -77% AT&T (T) Verizon (VZ) +40% Return in Last 10 Years

AT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile a "Dead Horse" Sprint
So you think the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile is fair?  Have a look at the stock performance of Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile over the last 10 years.  If you invested $10,000 into Sprint 10 years ago you would have approximately $3,300 left.  However, if you invested in Verizon and AT&T over the last decade you would have a whopping $14,000 with 5% dividend accumulation minus a slight decline in the value of the stock.  Sprint's stock is down approximately 77% over the last decade where Verizon and AT&T are only down 25% and 18% in value. However, with Verizon 5% dividend yield and AT&T 5% dividend yield their stocks are up over 40%.  Between these two giant sucking leaches they shell out over $15 billion dollars in dividends per year.  Verizon and AT&T are two of the highest paying dividend stocks on WallStreet.  This a carefully crafted Government and private sector shareholder led ponzi scheme is about to get worse.  Here are more details on why the Department of Justice should oppose the merger.

How is the HTC Thunderbolt Battery Life on Verizon 4G LTE?

Does the HTC Thunderbolt suffer from poor batter life just like the Droid?  Are device manufacturers jumping the gun rolling out these new devices the will require frequent charging?  Some reports say the Thunderbolt consumed 92% of its battery life in 3.5 hours. Its been our experience that 4G LTE will be great for those who want to pay for the expensive 4G LTE data plans but do you really need 4G on your phone?  We would appreciate your feedback and comments below on the performance of the device.  Our experience has been that Verizon is they tend to over hype their phones which have underperformed on their CDMA network in the past.  The million dollar question is how with these 4G phones perform on the LTE network?  The other huge question is where is 4G LTE available? 

Clearwire CEO T-Mobile Founder Objects to AT&T Merger

Former Voicestream Wireless (T-Mobile USA) founder and now Clearwire's new CEO John Stanton the "Wireless Wiz Kid" in an interview on CNBC voiced his objection to the proposed AT&T buyout of T-Mobile. AT&T's device exclusivity was already a problem with AT&T, such as its recently ended iPhone exclusive. The concentration of buying power would only get worse if the carrier had that much more clout and 130M, customers. John Stanton does not approve of the merger between T-Mobile and AT&T and yet he struggles with his view because he doesn't want the US Government to get involved but thinks it has to.

He said, "first AT&T is the most aggressive player in wireless to beat up T-Mobile up and now they are buying them".  John said, "AT&T is the most aggressive player in the industry and their exclusive relationship with Apple iPhone was the inflection point in the business that damaged T-Mobile the most.  Is AT&T making a smart decision to buy T-Mobile before it gets the iPhone 4 in the coming months.  Devices used to be available across all carriers which is another anti-trust issue that continues to be ignored.  T-Mobile had to go to a low-end customer base because they lacked the iPhone and their revenue growth dramatically slowed.  

John W. Stanton has a lot of industry credibility being the founder and former CEO of Western Wireless Corporation and former chairman and CEO of Voice Stream Wireless and former chairman of the CTIA. VoicesStream was sold to Deutsche Telecom and was re-branded to T-Mobile John is worth an estimated his net worth US$1.1 billion.

Related Stories:
Jim Cramer: Department of Justice Should Not Approve AT&T T-Mobile Deal
Why Obama Will Ignore AT&T's Corrupt Union
Obama Will Oppose AT&T T-Mobile Merger

Why Obama Will Ignore AT&T's Corrupt Union

man carrying a suitcase with money spilling out

Why, would AT&T's Communication Works of American union support the merger of T-Mobile? Because it represents another $15M per on top of its annual revenue of $500M per year?  Common sense for any free-market employee might be fear that your job might be cut if there was overlap from the acquiring company.  Not AT&T which is a bureaucratic union behemoth that has over 40,000 union employees already.  They will potentially inherit 42,000 of T-Mobile employees which represents an additional $15M per year for their new card-carrying employees.

Larry Cohen the CEO of Communication Workers of America lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee and should be investigated.  AT&T's labor union Communication Workers of America which represents almost 700,000 and generates $500 million per year might be the only reason that Obama gives the company a free pass to merge with T-Mobile.  The buzz at CTIA Wireless seems to be that AT&T's enormous union power will be the sole reason that the merger gets approved by Obama's Administration. Why? T-Mobile's 40,000 employees are all non-union employees are working on the free market concept thus one of the reasons customers have below-market rate plans. Obama has been known as a huge union supporter and AT&T has one of the largest most corrupt unions on the planet. Look at where all of that money goes?  Private planes, golf, travel, gifts, grants and a lavish lifestyle for anyone who comes into contact with the Union leaders.

You don't think the CWA union leaders would ever pay them huge salaries at the expense of their employees, would you?  Are these executives paying themselves small salaries and entertaining themselves with activities, private jets, gifts and other a lavish lifestyle.  

AT&T's union has already put out a press release supporting the merger claiming "T-Mobile USA and AT&T Merger Means Faster and More Widespread Broadband".  You can count on this being the exact opposite of what the Union is claiming.  It will undoubtedly be slower, more expensive and less widespread.  You can count on it.  The company does not care about cutting costs for consumers to save money and bring mobile data prices down to competitive world levels. This is what the Communications Workers of American have done for us in the last decade.  We are falling behind the rest of the World thanks to this corrupt union.  AT&T is a bureaucratic nightmare run like a Government that will never be able to execute on any National Broadband plans because it is too big.

Here is an important quote to note in the labor union press about the AT&T and T-Mobile press release that shows you this company is a pyramid ponzi scheme of executive, employee, union, and shareholder corruption and does not care about its customers.
AT&T will mean better employment security and a management record of full neutrality toward union membership and a bargaining voice. For T-Mobile USA workers who want a voice in their workplace, this acquisition can provide a fresh start with T-Mobile management. Some 42,000 ATT mobility employees are union represented.
The average AT&T Customer Service Representative I currently earning $24,440 per a year, and currently on step 8 of the wage progression table, will be earning $34,346 per year at the end of the contract. This represents a total increase of approximately 40.5% over the life of the contract.  Do you know anyone in the private sector that gets a raise like that?  The average Retail Sales Consultant currently earning $26,364 (excluding commissions) per year, on Step 12, will be earning $31,902 (excluding commissions) at the end of the contract. This represents a total increase of approximately 21% over the life of the contract.

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Obama Will Oppose AT&T T-Mobile Merger
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Why Did AT&T Oppose the Sprint, Clearwire Merger in 2008?
Jim Cramer: Department of Justice Should Not Approve AT&T T-Mobile Deal

AT&T & Verizon Control 85% of Total Wireless Industry Ad Spend

How can smaller regional wireless carriers possibly compete with the advertising giants of AT&T and Verizon who have historically controlled 85% of the advertising market?  Does the Obama administration take this into account when considering anti-trust issues or do they just consider whether there is access at the local level by other carriers?  The entire advertising market across TV, newspapers, and the internet amounts to approximately $1.3B dollars according to Bernstein Research. Here is a breakdown of how the wireless industry spends advertising dollars amongst the top players.

AT&T - $500M 2% of revenues
Verizon - $450M 3% of revenues
Sprint - $200M 5% of revenues
T-Mobile - $150M 6% of revenues
Regional Carriers - ?

The Department of Justice is expected to review anti-competitive issues as it relates to access in local areas across the US.  But why don't they take into account money and advertising resources at the disposal of each company?   Further consolidation of the space will also monopolize the airwaves and advertising dollars in order for marketing teams to acquire new customers.  This is coming from an industry that is notorious for false advertising of its coverage and services.  I will be severely disappointed if this issue is not highlighted by the DOJ or FCC.  Its time to spot the corrupt business practices of favoring the large corporations who have unlimited advertising and lobbyist budgets.  

Google & Facebook Agree On One Thing

Blocking the merger is the best interest of the companies Google and Facebook.  Lobbying on the AT&T T-Mobile deal has already begun and two of the strongest players Google and Facebook are not approving the deal. The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes big Silicon Valley Internet companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., said Tuesday that the deal "may be the most aggressive and anti-consumer merger proposal in history." Read more in the WSJ.

The tremendous advances in technology and price constraint over recent decades have come because of competition following the original AT&T breakup. The market constriction that would result if the government were to allow such a merger would propel us backwards and adversely impact the type of diverse innovative players we need to grow jobs and economic expansion. The deal would further entrench the playing field with one CDMA giant and one GSM giant and fair negotiations would be even harder.

T-Mobile has been a maverick in the wireless market designing its own handsets and offering lower prices to customers. Sadly, even if the deal is blocked it may serve to help freeze the market and some innovation while it is pending. It may be that ultimately this will be less about the merits of AT&T acquiring a competitor, and more about whether AT&T’s huge lobbying team, expenditures and contributions have already virtually acquired the federal government.

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AT&T Largest Donor to House Judiciary Chairman
10 Reasons Why AT&T is Bad for T-Mobile Customers

GSM CDMA Carrier Handset Competition Fair?
US Wireless Subscribers Pie Chart Post AT&T & T-Mobile Merger

GSM CDMA Carrier Handset Competition Fair?

AT&T will soon consolidate T-Mobile and become the only GSM carrier in the US.  Tracfone is a pre-paid carrier that offers both GSM and CDMA so it doesn't really count.  Is this fair competition?  T-Mobile has been the only GSM alternative to AT&T and post-acquisition there will be none.  What happens to consumers who purchased GSM phones and want to move to another carrier?  What happens to the handset manufacturers around the World who want to sell their products in the US?  Why should consumers care about GSM?  If you travel internationally you will know what I am talking about.  GSM is the World standard for phones and allows you to travel in most countries around the World without buying a new phone.

Consumers will be facing very limited choices for wireless service in most regions. The result will be only two competing technologies (CDMA & GSM) that all wireless carriers use, all the small regional carriers have to negotiate roaming deals with either Verizon or AT&T if they want to offer full coverage to their customers. The deal would further entrench the playing field with one CDMA giant and one GSM giant and fair negotiations would be even harder.

Verizon is a CDMA carrier and Sprint operates iDen and CDMA phones that donot work in most countries when you travel around the world.   Smaller regional carriers MetroPCS, Leap, US Cellular and Tracfone all use  CDMA as well.  

Vodafone Was Trying to Buy T-Mobile

Its always interesting to see what other companies might have been in the bidding war for T-Mobile.  Apparently, Vodafone (Nasdaq: VOD) was a very serious player at the table making a bid for T-Mobile USA as well and was ousted at the last minute by AT&T's enormous bid.  Based out of the UK, Vodafone would have been by far a better option for the US entity of T-Mobile.  The company has a market capitalization of $150B similar to AT&T but larger than Verizon's $105B.  This would have finally brought at 3rd and formidable competitor to the US market. Vodafone could bring a European buying experience to phones that we don't get in the US.  European companies are also about 5 years ahead of the US in terms of technology innovation and adoption of techniques for improving coverage and speeds.  If you look around the World most Countries besides the US have 3 large players in the market competing for customers.  However, the US only has AT&T and Verizon and drastically smaller players T-Mobile and Sprint.  I suspect that AT&T executives positioned themselves to Deutsche Telecom as "tight" with the US government regulators and claimed they could get the deal done more quickly than Vodafone could have.  Its sad to see T-Mobile taking a step back and not getting purchased by a company that could significantly bring improvements to an industry that desperately needs new blood and change.  Below is a map of Vodafone operating countries in red and affiliates around the World.  Verizon is their affiliate in the US. 

Obama Will Oppose AT&T T-Mobile Merger

Obama Will Gain Red State Votes As A Result
We think that the Obama Administration, the FCC and the DOJ have a perfect opportunity to capitalize on an opportunity to gain the trust of millions of T-Mobile & AT&T customers and win votes for the upcoming elections. This administration wants to make an example that 100 lobbyists cannot control politics or buy votes.  This administration hates lobbyists and the old-school way of corrupt business paying off politicians.  AT&T is the largest contributor to Congress and this could be a great "poster child" example of what Obama opposes based on his election speech.  He said in his speech,  "I will oppose and fight corporate corruption".  Here is your chance to hold your promise.

It is no secret that AT&T is also the largest contributor to the Chairman of House Judiciary Committee.  So its going to be a challenge for the Obama administration to block the deal but there are many political and business examples they can use to show how AT&T is buying the votes.  There are also many examples of why its bad for consumers and competition on a national scale and local scale despite AT&T's pitch that there are 5 competitors on a local scale.   

AT&T losing the iPhone exclusivity was the first crack in the ice that could send this corporate giant into a death spiral of debt.  The company needs to keep growing in order to service its debt and Ponzi scheme to shareholders.  The company is bleeding customers after losing the iPhone deal and most customers hate the company.  So it doesn't surprise me that AT&T has gone to desperate measures to maintain growth to buy a customer base of discount-paying customers who largely moved away from AT&T over the last ten years.

Here are some maps below of cell phone coverage complaints that has collected over the years.  There is a lot of overlap in the complaints we have received so there will be no net benefit to consumers who are seeking improvements in their local coverage.  It also is widely known that T-Mobile caters to the less affluent crowd and offers discounted plans that are much cheaper than the competition of Verizon and AT&T.  T-Mobile has been gaining market share in the red states as a result.  T-Mobile customers will thank the Obama administration for many years if they can save the average household from paying $500+ more dollars per year.  AT&T will raise prices and that is not good for consumers when the US is already the most expensive wireless Country in the World by far.  

Deutsche Telekom Was Losing Money on T-Mobile USA

A decade after paying $28.5 billion for T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) is now selling the company for $39B to AT&T.  This would be a 25% premium over the price it paid less any investment capital put into the company. T-Mobile USA was not a good investment for Deutsche Telekom had the parent company has been a weak partner with tepid dedication to the US market controlled by AT&T and Verizon lobbyist. The company has lost money for the fifth consecutive year and lacked the investment capital from the parent company to adequately compete. T-Mobile USA’s net income fell 7.9% to $1.35 billion last year. If T-Mobile was a stand alone publically trading company it would have roughly have a $16.8 billion market capitalization with a PE ratio of 12.4 as the average. No wonder why they took the deal at $39B.

Verizon and AT&T pump billions of dollars into advertising and marketing to drown out the smaller players in the market while charging 25% premium for their services. Consumers are getting screwed by these large corporate giants and government regulators continue to look the other way and ignore unfair competitive issues.T-Mobile obviously needs a new home but not in the hands of the largest competitor AT&T who will screw its customers. It makes more sense for a company like Sprint or Google to buy the company but they are not likely to pay the price of $40 billion.

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Why is Deutsche Telekom Selling T-Mobile?

AT&T is the Top Donor to Congress

AT&T has been the top corporate donor to members of Congress, donating more than $46 million in campaign contributions to mostly Republicans since 1989.  In 2010, AT&T company spent $15.4 million on lobbying in Washington with 93 lobbyists working on its behalf.  The battle to approve the corrupt deal will be fought city by city, antitrust lawyers say. More than half the markets mapped out by the FCC in 2008 count as "highly concentrated" by regulatory standards which is complete BS.  AT&T claims a handful of providers control most of the customers even though the resources controlled by the 2 giants AT&T and Verizon are 100X greater.  Is this fair?

The Obama Justice Department has not blocked a large, high-profile deal outright but this will be the first one. So far, two controversial deals Ticketmaster's acquisition of Live Nation Inc. and Comcast Corp.'s purchase of NBC-Universal were both allowed to proceed with significant conditions imposed.  However, this deal feels like a highly charged Republican deal and Obama will recognize this immediately.  Read more WSJ

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Jim Cramer: Department of Justice Should Not Approve AT&T T-Mobile Deal

"The Department of Justice Should Not Approve This Deal"

Jim Cramer of Mad Money thinks the AT&T and T-mobile deal will ultimately get approved but does not think it should be approved by the Department of Justice.  He thinks it will be terrible for consumers and wonderful for shareholders.  Jim went on to interview Ralph de La Vega of AT&T who is trying to sell the benefits of the deal and Dan Hesse of Sprint who objects to the merger for market competitive reasons.

Jim Cramer interviewed Ralph de la Vega, President of AT&T Mobility while at the CTIA Wireless show in Orlando, Florida today. Ralph de la Vega says confidently that the Justice Department has historically looked at the competition on a local level. Implying the DOJ will not look at fact that Verizon and AT&T will own 80% of the market and if they looked on a National level they couldn't approve it. Ralph over confidently says there are five competitors on a local level (where?) and therefore history will repeat itself and the acquisition will be approved.  Jim asked him why the $3B breakup fee and Ralph seemed to shake it off as not a big deal. Ralph justified the acquisition by saying the companies have compatible technology and spectrum and benefits to shareholders.  Ralph made no mention of the benefits to AT&T or T-Mobile consumers.

Cramer pointed out that the deal should never be approved from an anti-trust perspective. He went on to interview Sprint's President Dan Hesse who pointed out obvious anti-competitive issues if the deal is approved and they will fight it.. Dan learned about the deal while on vacation with his family and was simultaneously in talks with T-Mobile Deutsche Telekom as well. Dan didn't think the likelihood of an AT&T & T-Mobile merger was even remotely possible before because of antitrust issues.  Dan went on to say that Sprint and T-Mobile have been pricing leaders and their success was one reason for AT&T buying T-Mobile. Dan seemed very concerned about volume pricing buys for handsets could be a concern for competition. With 130M customers, they could have huge pricing leverage over the smaller players in the market.  He went on to say that it would be hard to see a scenario where Sprint and Verizon could merge to consolidate and consolidate the remaining market to 94% between just two companies.  Dan also poses the question that if AT&T truly was pricing the acquisition based on the value of spectrum then what should Sprint be worth?  A very creative way of saying that AT&T is lying that their acquisition is about the spectrum.

Jim went on to point out that Sprint or Verizon look at buying Netflix since it is a freeloading data hog?  I would like to point out that the real reason AT&T acted quickly to buy T-Mobile is for fear of losing all of their customers defecting to Verizon.  Losing the iPhone exclusivity was a huge loss for them and they desperately needed to buy a new customer base like T-Mobile.

AT&T is the Largest Donor to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee committee is supposed to look into possible anti-competitive impacts from the AT&T and T-Mobile merger which will lock up the market 80% of the market between two players Verizon & AT&T.  The 3rd largest carrier Sprint opposes the acquisition saying it's anti-competitive and will create an entity that will be impossible to compete with. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will be holding hearings on the AT&T and T-Mobile takeover but are they objective? Does the House Judiciary Chairman, Lamar Smith, R-Texas have a conflict of interest with AT&T as his largest donor of campaign funds?  Do other Republican committee members on the committee also have a conflict?  If AT&T is one of the largest campaign donors shouldn't they abstain from any commentary and let those not close to the company lead the discussion?

Politicians are just puppets to the giant AT&T which pays millions of dollars to campaign funds and billions of dollars to shareholders.  The fact that AT&T is one of the largest employers in the Texas Chairman's District might make you wonder what secret dealings might already be in place.   Write to these House Judiciary Committee Members who are evaluating the AT&T and T-Mobile deal.  It is no secret that AT&T is one of the largest donors to the campaigns to committee members Lamar Smith (TX), Howard Coble (NC), Dan Lungren (CA), Darrell Issa (CA).  See the numbers here  

Why Did AT&T Oppose the Sprint, Clearwire Merger in 2008?

Do you remember back in 2008 when Sprint and Clearwire announced intentions to merge?  Can you guess who apposed it?  Yep AT&T read the articles below.  Well now that the tables are turned on them and Sprint's Dan Hesse has plans to appeal to congress to halt the AT&T-T-Mobile Deal.  The combined entity would have “tremendous” power and AT&T and Verizon Wireless would hold 79% of the U.S. market if regulators approve the deal.  Sprint will file its concerns to Congress during the review.  The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearings on the takeover. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, vowed to hold a hearing, saying in a statement that "Congress must take a close look at the plan to ensure that the proposed merger promotes a healthy and competitive telecommunications market." The committee will look into possible anticompetitive impacts, said Representative Lamar Smith (Twitter), a Texas Republican who heads the panel.

AT&T Looks to Block Sprint/Clearwire Merger
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is accusing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of playing favorites. The telco filed a complaint to the agency yesterday saying that Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) and Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s proposed merger of assets should be subject to the same scrutiny it was given when it acquired Dobson Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: DCEL) last year. (See AT&T to Buy Dobson for $5.1B.)

AT&T opposes Sprint, Clearwire  AT&T Inc., which has the largest wireless subscriber base in the country, is asking the Federal Communications Commission to deny a merger request from Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. AT&T claims it is all for competition and that it isn't against the principles of the Sprint/Clearwire merger. It says it's merely asking that the FCC show some consistency in the way it combs over the deal.

Related Stories: 

JP Morgan $20B Bridge Loan to AT&T

JP Morgan who is one of the largest TARP (Trouble Asset Relief Program) recipients may syndicate and fund a bridge loan for AT&T to buy T-Mobile. If the deal gets completed, JP Morgan would fund about half of AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition or about $20 billion. In addition to serving as a lender, J.P. Morgan is advising AT&T as an investment bank.  Any conflict of interest Jamie Dimon?

The loan will be an 18-month commitment for a one-year unsecured bridge loan that AT&T can use to finance the acquisition.  Plenty of hedge funds that might take the other side of this trade and short it.  There are many reasons why this deal might not get done.  See our AT&T protest for other articles highlighting the challenges this deal will face getting approval. AT&T's payment known as a "reverse break-up fee" is $3 billion in cash. In addition, AT&T will transfer some of its assets including the rights to additional wireless spectrum and certain roaming capabilities, to Deutsche Telekom. Who is advising Deutsche Telecom on the sell-side transaction?  Here is a list of investment bankers that are working on the AT&T merger.

Why is Deutsche Telekom Selling T-Mobile?

Why is Deutsche Telekom Selling US Assets T-Mobile USA?

ADR shares of German-based Deutsche Telekom PINK: DTEGY soared more than 12% as the parent company shareholders seemed to like the sale of the firm's T-Mobile USA unit to AT&T in a $39-billion deal.  In contrast AT&T's stock NYSE: T was only up 1% on the news.  AT&T's acquisition is looking more like a hostile takeover the way these stocks traded today and the way that cell phone tower stocks tanked on the news.  It isn't widely known that Deutsche Telekom has been losing money on the transaction and has lost 59% of its value since closing the transaction years ago.  The company has reported profit declines in 4 of the last 5 years.  

Why does Deutsche Telecom want out of the US?  The map above shows a very large company that has assets telecom assets all over the world. Is this about creating value for shareholders or a currency war?  It makes me suspicious since the Dollar / Euro trades near an all-time low?  Do German shareholders fear a sudden rise in the dollar or drop in the Euro and thus making a market timing decision on the sale?  They could theoretically lose 40% of the T-Mobile USA value if the Euro / Dollar went back to par value and they didn't sell the company.   Do the German's fear another US recession is on the way and are not willing to wait for other rumored mergers like Sprint and Orange UK.  The deal sounds like a no-brainer to me if you are on the management team of Deutsche Telecom because even if the deal is not approved you still win with a $3B breakup fee and some of AT&T's LTE spectrum. 

T-Mobile Gets $3B Breakup Fee if AT&T Merger Approval Fails

If the AT&T and T-Mobile merger fails to gain approval from the FCC, FTC and DOJ then AT&T will pay T-Mobile a $3 billion breakup fee and transfer over some AWS spectrum it doesn’t need for its LTE deployment and grant T-Mobile a roaming agreement at an unknown value. The reverse breakup fee is about 7.5% of the total purchase price and the typical fee in takeovers is often closer to 3 percent. Is T-Mobile just playing poker knowing the deal won't ultimately get approved?  Agreeing to this merger could simply be a smart way for T-Mobile to gain more LTE spectrum and become more competitive in their conversion to LTE.  Did Deutsche simply sucker AT&T in to getting more money and coverage because they get paid regardless.   Very smart if you ask me and hope the real winner here is T-Mobile and their customers.  

“The breakup fee was very important to us in the negotiations,” Deutsche Telekom Chief Financial Officer Timotheus Hoettges said on a conference call today. “In the intensive discussions, with lawyers, economists, we concluded that we could be optimistic that we could get regulatory approval.”  See Bloomberg  Deutsche Telekom negotiated with AT&T to pay the $3 billion and give it rights to some wireless spectrum if the merger deal could not be completed. 

AT&T Tried Buying T-Mobile to Raise Prices

Here is a PowerPoint chart I found on AT&T's web site trying justifying the merger.  This chart highlights that wireless prices have declined 50% from 1999-2000 implying that this will continue.   What are they trying to imply now that Verizon & AT&T will soon dominate 75% of the market and are by far the most expensive carriers?  The implication is that want to raise prices because T-Mobile is hurting their margins charging 25% less.  It is widely known that T-Mobile provides its customers with valued pricing at more than 25% less with far better customer service and faster data speeds.   In slide number 24 you will see that they further imply that they want to grow the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and expand margins which means raise prices.

Why Cell Phone Tower Stocks Tanked Today

How AT&T and Verizon Want US Wireless Competition 

American Tower (AMT), Crown Castle (CCI) and SBAC Communications (SBAC) stocks tanked today by more than 5-10% on the news that AT&T and T-Mobile might be merging.  Why?  Because AT&T could remove T-Mobile’s overlapping cell phone tower sites and give more money to the shareholders.  If AMT, CCI and SBAC remove these duplicated towers is this good for the existing T-Mobile customer?  Now that AT&T & Verizon control 66% of the market and soon to be 75% this is how US wireless competition will look.   Here is a chart below of the cell phone towers that American Tower, Crown Castle and SBAC manage and own.  Do you think fewer cell phone towers is better for your wireless experience?   If you think AT&T & T-Mobile is bad for wireless consumers read this and help block the merger.

Number of Cell Phone Towers
22,321 - - $CCI
20,594 - - $AMT
10,792 - - $T
8,588 - - $SBAC
7,000 -  $DT

US Wireless Subscribers Pie Chart Post AT&T & T-Mobile Merger

This is what the US wireless subscriber market will look like post an AT&T and T-Mobile merger.  Does this look like a pie chart that is promoting fair competition?  Is it fair that these two companies are the highest paying dividend stocks (5% annual) on Wall Street?   shareholder payout is approximately $10 billion dollars per year and the Verizon dividend is approximately $5 billion dollars per year.  Are our FCC and DOJ protecting us from the competition when the US is far behind the rest of the World with data speeds and connectivity?

If AT&T controls 130M customers and Verizon 102 million this will wipe out any ability for competition.  Sprint is already in trouble with its financial problems and will never be a formidable competitor. T-Mobile was actually starting to do some disruptive things to the largest two carriers Verizon and AT&T before the acquisition took place.  The technology disruption in using WiFi, 4G, and HSPA+ alone was enough to get AT&T to swoop in a buy the company to shut them up.   This chart alone should concern the Department of Justice when considering if there is fair competition in an already corrupt industry.  I will go on record to say that this merger will be the worst in US history for customers and competition if it goes through.  

10 Reasons Why AT&T is Bad for T-Mobile Customers

#1 - AT&T Customer Service is Horrible and T-Mobile is Rated #1
#2 - T-Mobile has the fastest 4G network
#3 - AT&T has too many iPhones on their already congested network
#4 - T-Mobile's data plans are priced more reasonably than AT&T about 25% less
#5 - AT&T charges customers for WiFi tethering
#6 - T-Mobile & Google have had a great partnership and this will hurt their relationship
#7 - AT&T drops more calls than any other network
#8 - T-Mobile customers will start competing for coverage with 130M instead of 34M
#9 - T-Mobile has unlimited data plans that AT&T will remove
#10 - T-Mobile uses WiFi to fix dead zones and not the AT&T Microcell that has issues.

T-Mobile Customers Protest AT&T Acquisition

There is absolutely nothing good for existing T-Mobile customers about joining the largest network AT&T that already has 95 million customers.  T-Mobile has 34 million happy customers who enjoy being on their own network where fewer people are competing for bandwidth and spectrum in surrounding areas.  It is inevitable that crappier coverage and service will take place on a network of 130 million people.    How many times have you heard T-Mobile customers complain about slow speeds or poor data capacity?  Never . . . because T-Mobile's HSPA+ 4G network is fast and data connectivity is reliable.  Why, it's likely because there are not any iPhones on the network and there are fewer people in surrounding areas competing for data connectivity.  Express or discontent below with the acquisition because it will be horrible for customers.  

Block the AT&T & T-Mobile Merger

T-Mobile customers should voice their opinions here before the Department of Justice reviews the anti-trust issues involved in this acquisition.  They should also complain to the FCC Chairman Genachowski.   The news of AT&T acquiring T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom could not be worse news for T-Mobile customers.  Customers from T-Mobile hate AT&T and Verizon for their horrendous customer service and aggressive billing practices.  T-Mobile has the fastest HSPA+ 4G network and the best selection of phones that are not disrupted by iPhones which wreak havoc on the networks.  T-Mobile is a customer-friendly company that looks out for the best interest of its' customers.  AT&T's customer base will be growing from 95 to 130 million and what does that mean for you as a customer?  More predatory billing practices and worse network coverage. 

The Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust division can be reached at 1-202-307-2040 on their DOJ website or via  Members of Congress will also hold hearings on this merger, so writing your appropriate liberal congressperson (not republican) may also have some impact.

Related Articles:
10 Reasons Why AT&T is Bad for T-Mobile Customers
Why is Deutsche Telekom Selling T-Mobile?
Why Cell Phone Tower Stocks Tanked Today
T-Mobile Gets $3B Breakup Fee if AT&T Merger Not Approved
US Wireless Subscribers Pie Chart Post AT&T & T-Mobile Merger

Rootmetrics Has Raised Lots of VC Money

Cell phone signal benchmarking has been pitched to VCs as a science but in reality gathering, the data is all about social recommendations and user input in order to have scale. Bellevue, WA-based Root Wireless, a mobile app that analyzes gathers signal strength for cellular devices and it is unclear how many users they have and in what areas. The company has raised $4M+ and is likely still seeking deals from Amazon Wireless, Radio Shack, and Best Buy to validate their retail advisory business model. Their map highly the performance of cellular networks and devices within an anecdotal period of time and uses this data to make recommendations for customers who will be purchasing products at retailers.  After the Root Metrics recently raise $900,000 as reported in January 2011 they have raised a total of $4M after their $3.25M series B round in 2009. Root Wireless formed a partnership last month with CBS Interactive to allow the tech news site CNET to post maps of cellular network strengths and weaknesses.   They have no shortage of publicity calling them the "hottest company" by Lead 411" but is this credible?  The company is also up for a CTIA Emerging Technology Award as well.  Has this helped them come even close to the number of volunteer users we have on a daily basis?

I have some questions about their premise as a business.  Much like the carrier maps, it's hard to discern what their signal strengths are actually telling me?  Is it a dead zones, weak zone, drop call area, etc?  Does the company have enough data in enough areas to make proper recommendations?  Does signal strength even matter if you are in a complete dead zone?  If you are in a building does this affect the signal mapping?  What are retailers or consumers willing to pay for this feature?  Isn't the real problem helping consumers in remote areas get any signal let alone 2 to 5 bars?  There are far too many dead zones in the US for retailers and carriers to mapping signal strength in certain areas.  Do their maps take into account rush hour versus driving around at 3am?  How are they helping mobile users find access to WiFi which is going to be the standard for connectivity in the future? 

WiFi Adoption is Growing Faster LTE and 4G Ended 2010 with 3.35 million Wi-Fi hotspots, €28 million in revenues
Fon, the Wi-Fi network company backed by Google and Skype, says you can find 3.35 million Fon hotspots all across the globe these days. That's impressive growth, which comes down to more than 200% year-over-year. Last time Fon shared numbers, the company revealed that it tracked 2.5 million hotspots (this was in October 2010). Clearly, growth is accelerating for the company, in large part thanks to distribution partnerships it has struck with telecommunication companies all over the world. Fon also reveals that they’ve ended 2010 with revenues of €28 million, up from €5 million the year before, growth it attributes to the surge in use of Wi-Fi devices worldwide. (TechCrunch, 2/1/2011)

Half of mobile web browsers choose Wi-Fi
Bango reports that at the start of 2011 Wi-Fi accounts for over 50% of mobile user connections to the Internet. These latest Wi-Fi stats announced by Bango follow a report they published in February 2010, which highlighted that at the time 23% of mobile website visits connected thru Wi-Fi. The increased adoption of smartphone devices and the popularity of tablets are among the factors behind the surge in Wi-Fi usage. (Light Reading Mobile, 2/2/2011)

T-Mobile USA offloads 5M Wi-Fi callers
T-Mobile USA said 5 million of its 34 million subscribers route some of their cellular calls over a Wi-Fi network, and that around 1.25 million of those subscribers use the carrier's new Wi-Fi Calling Android application. Further, the carrier said its subscribers place around 40 million calls per month over Wi-Fi--a significant figure considering the world's wireless carriers continue to seek ways to reduce traffic on their wide-area cellular networks. (FierceWireless, 2/16/2011)

How to Choose an iPad 2 Data Plan

With the unveiling of the iPad 2, the tech world is abuzz with how Apple has made tablet computers such a widely accepted niche device. While the iPad is a wonderful tool in and of itself, its true power comes from being online. And with that, consumers need an iPad data plan that is best for them based on individual needs and budgets.  Choosing the right iPad data plan can be a daunting task. The following are some basic tips to help new owners get the most out of their iPad data plan: Here is a basic WiFI vs 3G iPad cost comparison.  Here are the basic 3G tiered data options below.

AT&T - iPad 3G
$14.99 – 250 megabytes
$25.00 – 2 gigabytes
Postpaid option

Verizon - iPad 3G
$20 – 1 gigabyte
$35 – 3 gigabytes
$50 – 5 gigabytes
$80 – 10 gigabytes

1. For what purposes will the iPad be used? Light users may only need email and some Internet access. Heavier users may have a variety of apps. Or, those who telework may need a combination of tools. If streaming videos and movies is important, then a higher capacity bandwidth (3G) might be needed. 4G data plans are not available yet from Verizon or AT&T and so WiFI will be faster in most cases. For just email or light Internet, a lower 2G could be acceptable.

2. How often and where the iPad be used? If the device is used all day long, the owner would want dependability and consistency with their data services. Casual users might be willing to accept the occasional disconnect or load delay in lieu of higher fees. Measure the amount of time you will want to use the iPad outside of the home or office where might not be available.

3. What is the current usage? If the owner already used a data plan for a different device (a Smartphone for example), was this adequate? Or would more usage come from the iPad? Do you have the ability to how to tether a data plan with your smartphone?

4. What is the budget? Before choosing any data plan, the owner should decide how much money he is willing to pay for the added capacities or services. Are you willing to pay $25 - 80 per month for slow 3G and soon $50-$100 per month for LTE when WiFi is free?

5. How likely would overage charges occur? For both Verizon and AT&T, overage fees can be substantial if the data limits are exceeded.  See the pricing and data limits above.

Also, users should be aware that there are WiFi plans in addition to the 3G, 4G, etc. options. WiFi enables the user to have wireless access when a WiFi network is available. The WiFi + 3G iPad provides the user with both options.

You might ask yourself if you even need a data plan for wireless data. WiFi-only iPads are selling faster than 3G iPads and thus you might save some money being efficient about your usage. If you choose to buy a 3G data plan and can't live with tethering on your phone ask yourself the following questions.

AT&T provided tiered pricing for their data services in 2010. Verizon recently announced that they will be moving away from their unlimited data plans in summer 2011 and will only provide tiered pricing. The tiered approach will make money for the carriers but can be quite a burden for consumers who would need to worry about the substantial overage fees.

As more carriers begin to offer the iPad in the future, the market will adjust according to the competitive pressure. Until then, however, iPad users are left to themselves to make the most out of their iPad data plans.

Verizon Paid $5.4 Billion in Dividends in 2010

Why is Verizon Not Investing More Money Into Their Infrastructure? 
Verizon (VZ) & AT&T (T) are paying out 85% to 72% of their respective earnings as dividends. If you think Verizon's dividend was big, have a look at AT&T dividend which was almost double at $10B in 2010.  What does this tell you about a company that is falling behind the rest of the world?  Do telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T have progress and technology innovation as a priority to improve our lives?  Or are they simply Government protected Ponzi schemes that simply pay off their shareholders with huge dividends?  Does it concern you that one of the highest dividend-paying companies on Wall Street is actually far behind the rest of the world in delivering broadband and wireless speeds?  Does it concern you that US customers are paying double and sometimes triple the rate for data and voice access compared to the rest of the World?  Should you be concerned that this is the same company that wants to filter information that comes over its dumb pipe to you?

Are you one of the suckers willing to pay $1000 per year for high-speed wireless access (LTE) when WiFi is free?  Fewer Verizon and & AT&T customers are buying the iPad 3G data plans and one of the reasons why Apple's (AAPL) stock is getting crushed.  iPads should be subsidized by the carriers if they want to continue tricking consumers into spending hundreds of dollars extra for mobile data outside of their WiFi home networks.

All of these issues creating the perfect storm for industry disruption and WiFi could just be the vehicle that brings this house of cards tumbling down.  It would only take a few million people to open up internet access on their home and business WiFi networks similar to the Fonera business model in France.  See  One of the only companies that is capable of executing this disruption to scale is Google because of their advertising footprint and I can't wait until it happens.  Its only a matter of time before the AT&T and Verizon dividend ponzi scheme house of cards comes tumbling down.  

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