Musings on Ma Bell

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| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Musings on Ma Bell

On my other blog, I linked to two WSJ graphics that show all of the consolidation in telecom. There is also a link to the fact that 6 companies own 90% of the media in the US. Consolidation under Obama has been unfettered.

I wonder back to when AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile in 2011. That Obama Admin said NO. Despite the fact that AT&T was actively helping the NSA and other 3-letter agencies since before 2006, when Klein exposed Room 641A.

Then there is the other program that AT&T runs for the feds: "Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud." The Daily Beast explains how AT&T is spying on Americans for profit. (It would be weirder if they were just doing it for fun.)

Barry Eisler spells out how all this works via his "fictional" book God's Eye View.

AT&T has hedged its bets since the T-Monile No. It won approval for DirecTV. It plans to get a Yes from the DOJ - and has told the FCC that they don't have a say in this acquisition.

From NEXTDRAFT by Dave Pell: "Will the AT&T acquisition of TimeWarner get federal approval? Before you place your bet, consider this data provided by the NYT: "AT&T is the biggest donor to federal lawmakers and their causes among cable and cellular telecommunications companies, with its employees and political action committee sending money to 374 of the House's 435 members and 85 of the Senate's 100 members this election cycle."

Why are they buying TW? Well, to catch up to VZ and Comcast. And because all the pies are flat. AT&T had a bad quarter. VZ has a had a couple. They are laden with debt. Cellular which is half the revenue or more is being picked apart by T-Mobile and to a much smaller extent Sprint. Cable is eating the wireline broadband lunch*. Since all of the bets were on cellular, it is now a run to use fixed wireless (LTE or licensed) for broadband deployment which will increase ARPU for them -- and the bills to consumers.

Ma and Pa Bell have spent tens of billions on spectrum. They will use it to get out of terrestrial broadband and have everything be wireless. They will still have to figure out the T-Mobile problem as well as the cable wi-fi problem.

They want content to build a walled garden - like Facebook or AOL before them. When you own the content you can be king, just ask Comcast/NBCU or Disney.

The one thing that will kill off the telco is an economic depression. When the US experiences another economic slowdown - like say 3Q2017 - consumers will have a lot less money to spend. That means ARPU will not go - and subscriber counts will go down. When you have to eat, you skip HBO and cable TV.

The auto industry is already feeling this crunch. More leasing, less sales, more discounts, interest free loans. The cars last longer. And driverless cars are coming.

One reason for immigration is to actually increase the population of the US. Millennials aren't having kids - in many cases because student loan debt and poor salaries make a child too expensive, except by accident.

In the midst of this noise 2 things to note: (1) ABRY is selling Masergy to Berkshire Partners for about $1 Billion dollars. The reports say $900M; I was told it is more than that.

(2) Google Fiber is laying off. The CEO of Google Access, Craig Barratt, is also stepping down. Too few subscribers, too many hassles means they will try fixed wireless then probably call it a day. The Duopoly of cable and telco have successfully squashed competition. And for all the little guys cheering, it could be you next!

Please note that in the middle of all this, despite the skyrocketing analyst forecasts, cloud computing is not mentioned in this scenario. Why? It amounts to peanuts in revenue for the Duopoly. "Total SaaS/PaaS revenues of top 50 software companies globally are $22.4B. Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP, Symantec, EMC, VMWare, HP, Salesforce and Intuit are the top ten software companies worldwide," according to Fortune and PWC. Unless they were to buy Salesforce to gain $5.5Billion in revenue, they have to go content. Microsoft bought LinkedIN for $26B!! And LI revenue isn't even $4B dollars.

IOT isn't even a billion dollars in revenue for VZW yet. So how do you move the revenue needle at the former Bells?

* Per telecompetitor, "The number of U.S. fixed broadband subscribers dropped by nearly 200,000 on a net basis in 2Q 2016, a decline of 0.2 percent, according to the latest market data from Point Topic."



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