Tag Archive for: AT&T

On May 10, AT&T submitted a regulatory request to lease wireless spectrum to AST SpaceMobile for the purpose of connecting smartphones in the United States to AST SpaceMobile’s planned satellite constellation. The agreement between the two companies includes the majority of AT&T’s low-band frequencies, which AST SpaceMobile intends to utilize to enhance AT&T’s coverage nationwide.

To enable wireless transmissions between smartphones and satellites, the companies require approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). AST SpaceMobile’s Chief Strategy Officer, Scott Wisniewski, mentioned that this authorization could be obtained through a permit for their spectrum leasing arrangement. Another possible avenue for approval is a rulemaking process proposed by the FCC called “Supplemental Coverage from Space,” which was put forward on March 17.

Both authorization approaches were discussed in a recent public hearing on this topic, with the FCC expressing encouragement for both methods. Ultimately, FCC approval will be crucial for AT&T and AST SpaceMobile to proceed with their plans to leverage satellite connectivity and address coverage gaps in the United States.

AST SpaceMobile has an additional request pending with the FCC seeking permission to transmit V-band frequencies from its proposed low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to gateways for backhaul purposes. This request is part of AST SpaceMobile’s broader plans to establish a comprehensive satellite communication network.

In collaboration with AT&T and Rakuten, a Japanese telecommunications company, AST SpaceMobile successfully conducted its first voice call on April 20 using an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone and its BlueWalker 3 test satellite. The tests with BlueWalker 3 are ongoing, with the objective of demonstrating the satellite’s capability to provide communication services at speeds typically associated with 5G networks.

AST SpaceMobile intends to launch its initial five commercial satellites in the first quarter of 2024 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. These satellites will be instrumental in the realization of AST SpaceMobile’s vision for a global satellite communication network, facilitating connectivity and communication services across various locations.

AST SpaceMobile’s Block 1 satellites, named after their development phase, are similar in size to the 1,500-kilogram BlueWalker 3 satellite. These Block 1 satellites are expected to be launched first. Following them, AST SpaceMobile plans to launch 20 larger Block 2 satellites later in 2024, which will be approximately 50% larger than those in Block 1.

AT&T has not provided specific details regarding the commercial deployment timeline for its partnership with AST SpaceMobile in the United States. However, AST SpaceMobile has indicated that the Block 2 satellites are necessary to provide coverage to the most commercially viable markets.

Lynk Global, a Virginia-based company that is also seeking authorization to offer direct-to-device commercial services in the US, has not disclosed its spectrum partner yet. SpaceX, on the other hand, announced last year that it would utilize spectrum from T-Mobile to enable direct connectivity between standard smartphones and its upgraded satellites in the low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation.

Photo: CNET, Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., suffering the steepest subscriber losses in the pay-TV industry, are open to a merger and both companies believe such a deal could pass muster with U.S. regulators, according to people familiar with their thinking. AT&T Dish Are Open

It’s been 17 years since a proposed combination of the two satellite-TV services was deemed bad for consumers and shot down by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department. But today — with at least seven competing cable-like packages offered online and the continued growth of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime — pay-TV subscribers are switching at increasing rates. DirecTV and Dish together lost almost 2.75 million subscribers in the past year.

“Both companies are seeing substantial declines in customers and when that happens, you see management teams start making plans,” said John Hodulik, an analyst with UBS. “As we’ve seen in this industry, it has usually led to consolidation.” Hodulik wrote a research note Thursday outlining the benefits of a such a merger. AT&T Dish Are Open

Representatives for Dish and AT&T declined to comment. The two companies have no active deal talks going on, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. In a second merger try in 2014, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen approached DirecTV. But AT&T swooped in weeks later and agreed to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion.

Dish rose as much as 6.3% to $38.47, the biggest intraday increase since January after Bloomberg reported the companies would consider combining their satellite-TV operations. AT&T gained 1%.

Down to One?

Reducing the only two satellite TV companies to one would seem to raise antitrust concerns, but in a similar scenario in 2008, satellite radio rivals XM and Sirius gained approval to form Sirius XM Holdings Inc. Antitrust officials, at the time, took into account a much larger audio market that included online services like Pandora, as well as terrestrial radio, when they reviewed Sirius XM. That approach could apply to today’s TV market, Hodulik said.

Each company could gain real benefits from a deal. AT&T might retain a minority stake in the combined TV business and part of the cash flow, Hodulik said. It could also obtain valuable airwaves owned by Dish for its nationwide wireless business. If Dish controlled the satellite business, it would have about 29 million subscribers, becoming the largest pay-TV service in the U.S. and gaining leverage in lowering programming costs. AT&T Dish Are Open

The dish is in a particularly tough spot. The Englewood, Colorado-based company has seen its conventional TV customers shrink from more than 14.1 million to 9.64 million in recent years. Its online Sling TV service has 2.42 million subscribers. But unlike Dallas-based AT&T and cable rivals like Comcast Corp., Dish doesn’t have a phone, broadband and wireless services it can bundle with satellite TV to retain customers.

Regulatory Picture

Given how the industry has changed and the number of new competitors that have emerged over the past decade, a combination of Dish and DirecTV could gain regulatory approval, Ergen said on a February 2018 earnings call.

“The marketplace is a little bit different,” he said. “So, I think that Justice would look at that positively.”

Even though there’s no deal afoot, the business case makes sense, according to the people. There’s logic to putting two declining businesses together, one said.

“The internet is becoming the biggest video distributor,” Hodulik said. “A decade from now, in areas that have broadband connections, having to get a satellite to watch TV will seem crazy.”