AT&T Wireless: It’s All About the Bandwidth, Dummy!

Cricket_LeapWell, as we all know by know, it turns out that T-Mobile would not feast on the insect.  Rather, AT&T Wireless bit the Bug. Yum!

Cricket will go to AT&T, but that’s a bit of a misstatement. This deal has nothing to do about acquiring cell sites. This deal has nothing to do about keeping the Bug’s subscribers. AT&T intends to eat the guts of the Bug…it’s bandwidth…and spit out most if not all of the exoskeleton (the existing cell sites).

This deal, like most of the deals today, has everything to do about acquiring frequencies. Bandwidth… Black Gold… Texas Tea… Wireless Whiskey…

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic and channeling Buddy Ebsen, but the fact is that bandwidth means more ‘go real fast’ for the customers, and more ‘go real fast’ for future customers.

The electromagnetic spectrum chart below makes it clear.

Spectrum poster by Randall Munroe ( Used with permission.
Spectrum poster by Randall Munroe Used with permission. Click on the image to enlarge.

Bandwidth is a scarce commodity, and lots of entities are vying to occupy its valuable slivers. Buying bandwidth from current licensees makes more sense–and is lots faster–than bidding on them in future FCC auctions.

More bandwidth…faster…less competition. Now there’s a recipe for success.

For more on why the Eat-a-Bug deal makes sense for AT&T, and is yet another sign of the bandwidth acquisition wars, see AGL Magazine’s insightful article on the topic: CLICK HERE.


PS: I think Randall Munroe is brilliant. Read his stuff. It’s deep.


Will T-Mobile or Dish Eat a Bug?

Cricket_LeapIs Leap Wireless a tasty bug?

According for FierceBroadbandWireless, which has a good eye for such things, T-Metro (really, T-Mobile and its recent meal, MetroPCS) might be getting hungry again.  This time it may be looking to eat a bug, namely a Cricket (Wireless), which is the trade name for Leap Wireless.

Oddly, I’ve been saying about the same thing about T-Mobile and MetroPCS for a while, now.

Of course, your parent(s) taught you not to eat off the floor, so it’s possible Dish might make a running Leap to eat the same bug.

For T-Mobile, this meal would squarely in the middle of its favored food groups.

Leap’s PCS system–and as importantly its customers’ handsets–are generally compatible with T-Metro’s network.  Better yet, there very little overlap between the MetroPCS and Cricket networks.  metro_cricket_coverage

How do I know about the minimal overlap?

Using home coverage maps available on the web as a yardstick, I imported Cricket’s and MetroPCS’s maps into Photoshop and overlaid then one atop the other.

Using the Photoshop Multiply tool, it was easy to see that the only basic overlap between the two networks is in central California with much lesser overlaps in Las Vegas, small parts of Georgia, and even smaller parts of Texas.

Who says everything is bigger in Texas?  Oops.  Sorry…

In the map, purple is MetroPCS’s home coverage; green and orange belong to Cricket; the dark green shows the overlap of the two networks.

Now you can see why Cricket’s frequencies (remember, this is all about frequencies for 4G+ uses, not about pops) complement MetroPCS’s.  Both complement T-Mobile’s footprint.

But wait!

What about Dish…the recent near-spoiler of the Softbank-Sprint-Clearwire deals?

I just don’t see it.

Yeah, Dish has a whole boatload of money burning holes in the bottom of their satellite receivers, but why spend the cash on little green dots and orange when the purple’s already dished on to on someone else’s plate (or dish)?

The smarter move would be for Dish to make a run on mama T-Mobile herself, with a pretty good national network already in place, and Deutsche Telekom an apparently willing on-again, off-again seller.

While I don’t rule out Dish, I simply don’t think it makes much sense for them to be a buyer of this bug.

Perhaps Dish will be a spoiler, again.

Time will tell.  Just listen for the gurgling stomachs.


Jonathan Atkin on the pending T-Metro marriage

Jonathan Atkin analyzes the wireless sector for RBC Capital Markets, LLC.

Better put, Jon dissects the wireless sector, looking at the players, numbers, and technologies in multiple contexts and from multiple angles spotting nuances leading to a much deeper and more complete worldview of wireless.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Jon present at several AGL regional conferences, and I always walk away from his presentations with a much keener view of the wireless industry and its direction(s).

Jon released a research report a few days ago on the pending T-Metro marriage that is well worth reading and understanding. He summarizes his research this way:

Our initial take is that a potential business combination between T-Mobile and MetroPCS is of dubious merit for Deutsche Telekom under business conditions and public-market valuations. We expect few regulatory barriers to such a deal, and believe Sprint could benefit competitively.

Jon points out that the proposed T-Metro intermarriage is one of different transmission technology religions. This rules out quick systems’ integrations and synergies as each partner will continue to practice its own signal transmission religion for for foreseeable future. He cites Sprint as a much more suitable marriage partner for MetroPCS given that both of them practice the same signal transmission technology religion. (Hey, it’s my metaphor…go with it.)

Not mentioned in Jon’s analysis is that with Sprint’s deployment of its Network Vision project, that firm will be in a much better position to rapidly deploy MetroPCS services from the new Network Vision sites. This would allow Sprint to shutter some/many MetroPCS sites quickly, substantially reducing site lease rental costs, especially at existing collocated Sprint/MetroPCS sites.

The funny thing is that a Sprint+MetroPCS marriage would be much more likely to succeed compared with the disastrous Sprint+Nextel marriage, which, like the pending T-Metro marriage, is based on each marriage partner practicing a different and incomparable signal transmission religion.

Jon notes that even if the T-Metro marriage is consummated, the new shared life of those partners will be distracting early on in their new union, opening the door for Sprint (and Leap Wireless) to push forward. My gut feeling is that a consummated marriage between T-Mobile+MetroPCS will prompt a Sprint+Leap marriage.

Read Jon’s report by clicking here: Hello, Hello, Hallo – Thoughts on Potential DT/PCS Tie-Up.



Yes, the world really is getting FLATTER.

T-Mobile has jumped on the $99.99 flat-rate bandwagon.

Following Verizon’s and AT&T’s lead, T-Mobile has said:

BELLEVUE, Wash., Feb. 19, 2007 – T-Mobile USA, Inc., announces today that it will offer consumers a plan that includes unlimited nationwide wireless calling and unlimited nationwide messaging for $99.99 per month. This offer will be available beginning Thursday, Feb. 21, and will be a great value for new and existing T-Mobile customers.

“T-Mobile is passionate about helping people stick together with those who matter most, and providing them with the best value is one way we help our customers do that,” said Jeff Hopper, vice president, Marketing, T-Mobile USA. “This offering empowers people to communicate as much as they like on their own terms – whether it’s voice, text messaging, picture messaging or IM.”
With this new plan, domestic roaming and long distance charges are included. Unlimited messaging includes text messages (SMS), picture messages (MMS) and instant messages (IM).

T-Mobile also offers its popular myFaves plans — affordable unlimited calling plans suited for a majority of its customers — beginning at just $39.99 per month.More information and qualifying details will soon be available at

More pressure on MetroPCS, Cricket, etc.


Who said the world is round? Apparently not AT&T Wireless or Verizon Wireless.

When it comes to wireless usage pricing, the world is flattening out. AT&T and Verizon have announced $99.99 (gee, I’m glad it’s not $100!) flat rate ‘all-you-can-eat’ talk plans.

The chief losers here are MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless, as well as the other flat-rate carriers who have found a niche in this sector. Oh, yes, AT&T iPhone users are also losers since the AT&T flat rate plan won’t apply to their phones. Too bad, so sad.

Below is Verizon’s press release, followed by AT&T’s press release



BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Verizon Wireless is moving the industry forward with the introduction of game-changing voice and data plans. The builder and operator of the nation’s most reliable wireless network today announced the immediate availability of new Nationwide Unlimited Anytime Minute Plans. The plans give customers all their calls – anytime to anyone in the U.S., including landline phones – at a flat rate for $99.99 monthly access. BroadbandAccess Plans are also being enhanced so customers now have two choices for Internet browsing, e-mail access and downloading files. The new BroadbandAccess plans, available on March 2, will offer customers monthly data plan options of 50 Megabytes (MB) or 5 Gigabytes (GB) (5,120 MB).

“Verizon Wireless is changing the way customers think about wireless,” said Mike Lanman, Verizon Wireless chief marketing officer. “The new flat rate voice plans truly free customers from the worry of counting minutes, while the new data plan options allow more customers to experience the freedom of mobile broadband. These enhancements are also an acknowledgement that wireless has evolved and more people than ever depend on it as a primary means of communication in every aspect of their lives.”

BroadbandAccess, the company’s flagship data service, allows customers to experience average download speeds of 600 kilobits per second (kbps) to 1.4 megabits per second and average upload speeds of 500-800 kbps, which means customers can download a 1 MB e-mail attachment in about eight seconds and upload the same-sized file in less than 13 seconds. Customers will be able to take full advantage of these speeds with two options: 50 MB data usage for $39.99 monthly access or 5 GB data usage for $59.99 monthly access.

“These new flat rate plans make mobile broadband more affordable than ever,” said Lanman. “The $39.99 plan is perfect for the occasional or light data user, while the $59.99 plan meets the needs of the majority of heavy data users. The plans are easy to understand and give customers the technology they need to manage their lives – both business and personal.”

Verizon Wireless can make this industry leading move because it has invested nearly $44 billion since it was formed – $5.5 billion on average every year – to increase the coverage and capacity of its national network and to add new services. The company was also the first to offer customers a guarantee that pays for equipment and service if customers are not satisfied within 30 days and want to move their service to a different carrier.

“Wireless service is a powerful tool that has vastly changed the way we live. Verizon Wireless decided to take the next step by evolving our plans to meet the needs of customers who depend on our service to stay connected. We have enhanced our pricing portfolio because some customers just needed more freedom for their wireless dollar,” Lanman added.

Here’s AT&T’s press release:

AT&T to Launch Unlimited U.S. Calling Plan

$99.99 Plan Available Feb. 22 for New and Existing Customers

San Antonio, Texas, February 19, 2008

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced today new unlimited voice plans targeted to wireless users who want the predictability of flat rate pricing for unlimited minutes. The plans will be available to new and existing wireless subscribers for $99.99 a month for unlimited U.S. calling on all devices with no domestic roaming or long distance charges. The plans can be combined with any current wireless data plan to give customers the ultimate in wireless freedom.

The new plans, available Feb. 22, can be ordered at one of AT&T’s 2,200 company-owned retail stores and kiosks, at, or at one of the thousands of authorized AT&T retail locations. Existing customers can choose unlimited calling without extending their contract. New customers have the option of a month-to-month, 12 or 24 month contract.

As with other voice calling plans, AT&T customers can choose from a variety of MEdia Net and messaging plans to meet their needs. For example, customers with standard wireless phones* can choose a data plan such as $5 for 200 text, picture, video and instant messages or $35 for unlimited messaging and MEdia Net access.

“We are pleased to offer our customers these great new plans that deliver value and simplified pricing,” said Ralph de la Vega, president & CEO, AT&T Mobility. “This is a highly competitive market and we’re committed to moving fast to meet customer needs.”

AT&T customers benefit from the nation’s largest digital voice and data network, with 3G broadband available in more than 260 major metropolitan markets. The company recently announced plans to expand its 3G network to 350 markets, including all of the top 100.

*Standard wireless phones do not include smartphones or PDAs or the iPhone.