Remember when competition wasn't a bad word?

Subject: Editorial | October 2, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: google, chromecast, AT&T, apple tv, amd, amazon

There is more discouraging news out of AMD as another 5% of their workforce, around 10,000 employees, will be let go by the end of 2016.  That move will hurt their bottom line before the end of this year, $42 million in severance, benefit payouts and other costs associated with restructuring but should save around $60-70 million in costs by the end of next year.  This is on top of the 8% cut to their workforce which occurred earlier this year and shows just how deep AMD needs to cut to stay alive, unfortunately reducing costs is not as effective as raising revenue.  Before you laugh, point fingers or otherwise disparage AMD; consider for a moment a world in which Intel has absolutely no competition selling high powered desktop and laptop parts.  Do you really think the already slow product refreshes will speed up or prices remain the same?

Consider the case of AT&T, who have claimed numerous times that they provide the best broadband service to their customers that they are capable of and at the lowest price they can sustain.  It seems that if you live in a city which has been blessed with Google Fibre somehow AT&T is able to afford to charge $40/month less than in a city which only has the supposed competition of Comcast or Time Warner Cable.  Interesting how the presence of Google in a market has an effect that the other two supposed competitors do not.

There is of course another way to deal with the competition and both Amazon and Apple have that one down pat.  Apple removed the iFixit app that showed you the insides of your phone and had the temerity to actually show you possible ways to fix hardware issues.  Today Amazon have started to kick both Apple TV and Chromecast devices off of their online store.  As of today no new items can be added to the virtual inventory and as of the 29th of this month anything not sold will disappear.  Apparently not enough people are choosing Amazon's Prime Video streaming and so instead of making the service compatible with Apple or Google's products, Amazon has opted to attempt to prevent, or at least hinder, the sale of those products.

The topics of competition, liquidity and other market forces are far too complex to be dealt with in a short post such as this but it is worth asking yourself; do you as a customer feel like competition is still working in your favour?

The Hand

The Hand

"AMD has unveiled a belt-tightening plan that the struggling chipmaker hopes will get its finances back on track to profitability."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

A world without SIMs?

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: SIM, Samsung, apple, Vodafone, AT&T, orange, Deutsche Teleko

If you hate trying to read the numbers off of your SIM card and are sick of their continual shrinking then Apple and Samsung's plan to make the SIM card extinct may be good news.  If you have a phone with dual SIMs or remove the SIM when you travel to ensure no roaming charges will be applied to you then perhaps you are less than happy to hear these companies want to replace the physical SIM with a software one.  It will make changing providers and phones easier but making it a permanent part of the phone could have some drawbacks.  Those of you who have a new iPad Air and iPad Mini may already be familiar with the soft SIMs, if you want to read more you can catch up at The Register.


"Smartphone goliaths Apple and Samsung are reportedly confabulating at a high level regarding plans for hardware which would replace SIM cards in mobile devices - this technology would be embedded in phones, tablets etc and would not be exchangeable to different devices."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AT&T is late to the gigabit game, but you can pay them for "privacy"

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: irony, Privacy, google, gigabit broadband, AT&T

Kansas City got Google Fiber back in 2012 and not surprisingly a lot of users jumped to this ~$70 service from their current ISPs the moment they could.  Two of the incumbent ISPs suddenly came to the realization that there was demand for broadband at this speed and turned on some of their already laid and configured fiber connection so they could start to offer actual broadband and now several years later AT&T discovered that they would need to do the same to be able to attract customers in that market.  The fiber has lain dormant for quite some time as most ISPs have argued that there was no demand for that level of connectivity; at least until Google offered it and customers left them in droves proving that the demand had always been there.

From The Register we hear that AT&T now offers $70 for a1Gbps connection, an additional $50 will get you TV and you can even bundle home service into the deal if you wish.  For an additional $29 per month AT&T also offers not to log everything you do on the web over their connection, something which Google does not offer.  This makes for an interesting discussion as most surfers no longer blink at Google the search engine tracking what they do online, but what about Google the ISP; does that create a different gut reaction?  Then again considering AT&T's loose definition of unlimited, what do they mean by privacy or even gigabit for that matter?


"We've moved quickly to bring more competition to the Kansas City area for blazing-fast Internet speeds and best-in-class television service," said John Sondag, president of AT&T Missouri, without apparent irony."

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Source: The Register

AT&T Buys DirecTV for $48.5 Billion USD in Stock

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2014 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: direcTV, att, AT&T

That silly AT&T is now acquiring companies other than the ones they shed off during the 1974 antitrust lawsuit. This time, it intends to acquire DirecTV in a deal valued at $48.5 billion USD, in stock. All said and done, the total transaction is valued at $67.1 billion. Currently, DirecTV sits at a market cap of 42.77 billion USD and the stock is trading in the range of 84 to 85 dollars per share. In this deal, shareholders will receive $95 per share, about 30% in cash and 70% in AT&T stock.


Owning the globe... trademark.

The deal also claims to have several benefits for consumers. AT&T pledges to add 15 million customer locations, mostly rural, with fiber and wireless local loop (microwave). They also pledge to follow FCC's Open Internet Order from 2010, for at least three years after closing.

Three years of Net Neutrality, fun.

Seriously, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV and it should be enforced, anyway. It is nice that Net Neutrality has become a buzz word, mostly in terms of people becoming aware to it, but an action would be significantly more helpful. Remember that we, at PC Perspective, host our own video streaming service for our podcasts and live events. We rely on our traffic reaching our audience.

But, of course, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV either. It is possible that they could give concessions to help the acquisition go through and, honestly, I am not too against this purchase, if viewed in isolation. Let's just hope that, like their split-up compromise, they don't immediately start undoing it when they think no-one's watching.

We're watching.

Source: AT&T/DirecTV

AT&T Plans To Acquire Leap Wireless (Cricket) For $1.2 Billion

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 13, 2013 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: wireless, spectrum, leap wireless, cricket, AT&T, acquisition, 4g lte

AT&T Plans To Acquire Leap Wireless (Cricket)

In a counter move to the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire merger, AT&T has announced its intentions to buy out Leap Wireless and its Cricket pre-paid cell service brand. AT&T will pay as much as $15 per share, which amounts to a bit under $1.19 billion (79.05 million outstanding shares at $15 per share). Before the announcement, Leap Wireless was trading at less than $8, so the bid is fairly generous. So far, approximately 30% of shareholders have voted to accept the buyout offer.

In the buyout deal, AT&T will acquire Leap Wireless, its Cricket brand in the US, licenses, spectrum, Cricket brand, 3,400 employees, and its retail locations. Cricket currently has a 3G CDMA network and is rolling out a 4G network. The company has about 5 million subscribers. AT&T will get to add a bit more spectrum to its portfolio in the PCS and AWS bands. This spectrum held by Leap Wireless is reportedly complementary to AT&T’s existing licenses.

Cricket Wireless.png

Interestingly Leap Wireless is not doing very well, and has about $2.8 billion in net debt, and its Cricket service is loosing subscribers. AT&T would also have to assume that debt. Cricket offers up unlimited plans that include unlimited voice calls, texting, and data. AT&T has stated that it would assume control of and maintain the Cricket brand. It will continue to offer service to existing Cricket customers and would also offer up its own 4G LTE network for use by Cricket pre-paid plans (phone hardware permitting). AT&T stated in a press release that it intends to use the Leap Wireless acquisition to “jump start AT&T’s expansion into the highly competitive prepaid segment.”

The buyout deal will need to be approved by Leap Wireless as well as by the US Department of Justice and FCC. If it successfully passes through the various regulatory bodies, AT&T expects the deal to close within the next six to nine months.

Personally, I have my doubts that AT&T will continue to maintain the Cricket service as is, especially when it comes to unlimited data. As far as its pre-paid expansion, it at least tried to go down this path before with its line of Go phones. I believe that this deal is mostly about padding out AT&T’s spectrum portfolio in a bid to head off Sprint, and maintain its position against T-Mobile and Verizon. The MVNO and pre-paid market is certainly growing and AT&T is going to want a piece of that market, but I also think that the last thing AT&T wants to do is cannibalize its own contract offerings by offering up a similar pre-paid service with unlimited everything for half the price. Sure, AT&T will take it versus getting nothing, but the company is going to have a hard time balancing both offerings in a way that does not negatively effect one or both of its pre-paid and post paid services.

What do you think about the deal, is this a good thing for Cricket customers? Is AT&T serious about wanting to jump into the pre-paid market?

Source: AT&T