Carrier Consolidation Update: June 2014

I haven’t had time to formulate thoughtful analyses of any news items recently, but I have been noticing a lot of news about telecom carrier mergers lately, so I thought I’d summarize some of what I’ve seen… with links, of course, if you want to delve further into any of them.

TeleGeography reports that it sees cellular consolidation on the horizon in India, as the country’s top three cellular carriers dominate the market.  If that happens, India’s wireless industry would simply be joining the ongoing consolidation trend in telecom.

Here in the U.S., we’re following the merger chatter surrounding T-Mobile and Sprint.  BGR’s Zach Epstein provides the details in his overview, referencing CNBC’s video discussing the $2 billion break-up fee and the plans to go with the T-Mobile name and management team post-merger.  Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has been widely quoted as noting that a Sprint-T-Mobile merger would reduce the “big four” to a “big three,” the same reasoning cited for disallowing an AT&T-T-Mobile merger three years ago.  Obviously, T-Mobile and Sprint are hoping a merger of the 3rd and 4th largest carriers is more palatable to the FCC and DoJ.

In Europe, the talk is about Telefonica’s proposed acquisition of German wireless carrier E-Plus from KPN.

In the Italian wireless space, Reuters has reported a restart of negotiations between Hutchison Whampoa and Vimpelcom to merge their Italian wireless subsidiaries.  This report came just a week after Hutchison gained final EU approval of its Irish subsidiary’s acquisition of Telefonica’s wireless business in Ireland.

Back in the U.S., on the video side, AT&T continues to push ahead with its proposed acquisition of DirecTV, while Comcast and Time Warner Cable pursue a mega-merger.  In fact, this article suggests the AT&T-DirecTV deal may help boost the likelihood of regulatory approval for Comcast-Time Warner.

One of the interesting aspects of the AT&T-DirecTV acquisition is the role NFL Sunday Ticket plays in the deal.  As this Digital Trends article points out, there is reportedly an opt-out clause for AT&T if DirecTV fails to renew its deal with the NFL.

Meanwhile, Fierce Telecom’s Sean Buckley notes that Level 3 is looking to vastly expand its access on on-net buildings with its proposed acquisition of tw telecom.

I’m sure I may have missed a few, but those are the deals I’ve noticed in the news lately.

Carrier Ethernet Quick Hits: Price Declines Accelerate; Allstream Gets Certified, So Does Cox

Carrier Ethernet has been in the news a bit lately.  Here are a few quick hits:

1) In its CommsUpdate, TeleGeography noted that Ethernet pricing isn’t just declining; rather, it’s decline has accelerated in the past year:

New data from TeleGeography’sEthernet Pricing Service reveal that as Ethernet service availability has grown around the world, price declines have accelerated. Between H1 2013 and H1 2014, median monthly lease prices for 100Mbps point-to-point Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS) pseudowires declined an average of 44%, compared to 26% annually since H1 2011.

You can see the acceleration very clearly in TeleGeography’s graphic:

2) Canadian competitive carrier Allstream is trying to differentiate itself via MEF CE 2.0 certification:

“I am proud that Allstream is the first among Canada’s major national carriers to achieve this significant milestone,” said Allstream President Michael Strople. “The MEF CE 2.0 certification reinforces Allstream’s reputation for innovation and provides assurance to our customers that the products and services they are buying are the best in Canada and the world.”

3) CED reported that, in the U.S., Cox Business became the fourth cableco to earn MEF CE 2.0 certification, joining Time Warner Cable Business Class, RCN Business, and Comcast.

4) So, how many MEF CE 2.0 carriers are there?  Yes, I was wondering, too, so I went to the Metro Ethernet Forum website, where I found this Services Certification Registry.  As of this writing, 74 services, offered by 26 companies in 12 countries, are MEF CE 2.0 certified.  (A lot more companies — 72 in 27 countries– are MEF CE 1.0 certified.)

So that’s today’s tour around the Carrier Ethernet space.  I had noticed a flurry of mentions in the last couple of weeks and was curious what was going on in the space.  Perhaps this summary has satisfied your curiosity, as well.  If I missed any other interesting recent Metro Ethernet news, please do share links in the comment section (or you can send it to me and I’ll share it, if you’re one of my industry friends and contacts who doesn’t want to comment yourself).

Learning the Basics: Fiberoptics Webcast and Small Cell Definitions

How many of us have the time to keep current (or refresh our knowledge) on telecom topics that don’t affect our daily work?  I’ve recently had a couple of opportunities to improve my knowledge – one a webcast about a telecom technology, the other a blog post that helps define a newly hot market segment – that I’d like to share with you.

First, I can’t believe that it has been more than a decade since I last worked directly in the fiberoptics industry.  (My years working in the fiberoptics for KMI are also the reason I’ll always write “fiberoptics” as one word rather than two.)  Last week, I refreshed my knowledge of fiber basics by watching a “Fundamentals of Fiber Optics” webcast.  Available on-demand here on the Lightwave website, the presentation by The Light Brigade’s founder Larry Johnson serves as a solid one-hour primer covering the basics of how fiberoptics works.  Very worth viewing as a sort of refresher if you haven’t worked with the basics of fiberoptics for a while (as was my case) or if you’ve not been directly working with the theory of how fiberoptics work for a while.  Also a great introduction – something that might be worth sharing with newbies in your company.

The other interesting discovery this past week – this one definitional in nature – comes courtesy of CommScope’s blog.  Recently, I had been seeing a flurry of news articles about small cells.  This doesn’t affect my daily work, so I was comfortable with my general understanding of what small cells seemed to be, but in the back of my head I had thought I should someday devote a little time to Googling small cells just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding what I was reading.  Then, earlier this week, CommScope’s June 2nd blog post of “What Exactly Is a Small Cell?” found its way to my inbox.  Adapted from Pankaj Gandhi’s May 22nd post on ETTelecom’s TeleTalk blog (Small Cells: The solution to telcos’ network capacity challenges), this post serves as a nice starting point in accelerating my understanding.  Indeed, in it, Gandhi says “Small cells or small cellular base stations encompass a number of different technologies but one could describe them as anything that’s not a typical macro site.”  I’d suggest reading the entire blog post for more detail.

It’s always nice to find some shortcuts that help maintain or upgrade our understanding of the industry in which we work (and adjoining industries). I hope those two resources above are of assistance to you.  Please do feel free to share other educational resources, either by e-mail to me directly or in the comment section below.

Finally, before I close, I’ll add one more “learning tool.”  I don’t plan to make a note about this again; just, since so most of my readers right now are people I already know (industry friends, former colleagues, and contacts, many of whom don’t spend a lot of time reading blogs), I thought I’d share “how to sign up for blog e-mails.”   Look for the “Follow” button in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.  If you click that button, you can sign up to have my blog sent to your inbox whenever I update it.  As you can see, I don’t blog that often.  I can’t imagine it will ever be more than once a day, almost certainly not even that often, so I won’t fill your inbox.  Anyway, if you sign up for the e-mails, you won’t have to periodically click on your bookmark to my blog to see what I have to say.  (I also tweet on Twitter and pin a link to Pinterest whenever I add a new blog post, but you know how quickly those messages get lost in the feed, so e-mail is often the best way to make sure you receive each post.)