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Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant. If you would like to receive Telecom Daily emailed daily to your desktop, please click here: TelDailyEmail.

Wednesday, April 23...

AT&T Sees Revenues Rise, but Profits Remain Flat on Increased Costs
AT&T reported its financial results for the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year. The company's revenue for the period was $32.47 billion, up slightly from the $31.35 billion posted for the same quarter in 2013. Despite these gains, net income for AT&T fell slightly, coming in at $3.73 billion, compared to the $3.77 billion reported a year ago. This was due almost entirely to a $782 million increase in the carrier's operating expenses when the two quarters are compared. The company's profits during this period resulted in earnings per share of $0.70, compared to Q1 2013's $0.67, with the discrepancy being caused by changes in AT&T's stock levels during the intervening time. AT&T finished the first quarter with 116 million active wireless subscribers, after adding a net total of 1.06 million during the period. The subscription gains were powered by the Postpaid wireless and Connected Devices portions, while the Prepaid segment lost around 50,000 subscribers, and the Reseller portion continued its downward trend from the past year, dropping over 200,000. Things were not as positive for AT&T on the wireline side of its holdings, with year-over-year net loss of 166,000 subscriptions spread across its voice, video, and broadband offerings.

Sprint Sets February 11, 2015 as Date it Will Begin Unlocking Off-Contract Devices
Sprint has revealed a change in its unlocking policy which will make it possible for customers to port their Sprint-branded devices to other carriers when their contracts end. Beginning on February 11, 2015, any Sprint customer with a SIM-enabled mobile device will be able to fully unlock their smartphone, tablet, or other wireless hardware upon their exit from the company. This makes it possible for customers with the correct device models to take their hardware to T-Mobile, AT&T, or any number of other carriers in the US, for use on a new network. It should be noted that only a small portion of Sprint's branded hardware is sold with built-in support for the SIM card necessary to connect to GSM-based wireless networks, as well as certain carriers' LTE services.

Fierce: Verizon Wireless Buying Spectrum from Regional Telecoms in Hawaii, California
Verizon Wireless has signed a pair of spectrum acquisition agreements with regional carrier Golden State Cellular, in California, and Mobi PCS, in Hawaii, Fierce Wireless reported. As Fierce noted, the transaction is only the latest in a growing trend of consolidation among wireless industry members, with the number of tier 2 and 3 wireless providers in the US on a steady decline. According to Fierce, Verizon will absorb all existing assets of Golden State Cellular, and will transition the carrier's former customers onto its own network over the course of 15 months, following the closure of the sale. Meanwhile, a Verizon spokesperson told Fierce that it will acquire 20 to 30Mhz of spectrum from Mobi PCS, with 10MHz being leased back to Mobi so that it may continue offering wireless services for a period of 12 months, as it transitions out of its role as a wireless service provider. No financial terms for either agreement were disclosed.

Google Updates Hangouts with Unified Conversations
Google's latest update to its Hangouts application for Android has accomplished a long-sought goal for the company, completely merging both messaging platforms used to communicate with any single contact. In version 2.1 of hangouts, all messages, whether sent via traditional SMS protocols or from within Hangouts itself, will appear within a single, merged conversation. The new functionality brings color coded messages with it, allowing users to determine which communication protocol was used to send each piece of correspondence. Other new features in this version include a divided contacts page, which displays which of the user's relations have access to Google Hangouts, and which use a traditional cellular connection; a new homescreen widget; and improved video call quality. Existing users should receive the update automatically, while new users can download Hangouts at Google Play.

AT&T Allies with Chernin Group for Enhanced OTT Video Push
AT&T announced a new alliance with the Chernin Group, a media investment and management firm. Under the terms of the agreement, the duo will form a joint venture with the goal of investing in and launching over-the-top (OTT) video services. The companies have already committed more than $500 million to their efforts, with the potential for additional funds in the future. AT&T and the Chernin Group said they plan to start out be leveraging the ongoing and rapid growth in online video and OTT services, while seeking out a way to make the best financial use of advertising and subscription VOD channels as well as streaming services. No financial terms for the agreement between the two companies were disclosed.

... Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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