Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington has approved the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, despite the Justice Department’s claim that the deal would stifle competition. Judge Leon ruled the Justice Department did not prove that AT&T’s $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner would result in fewer consumer choices and higher prices for Internet and TV services. While AT&T aims to move forward with the transaction, the DOJ is reportedly considering its options. The decision is expected to impact the future of media and telecom industries, and spur additional mergers and related deals. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam announced he plans to step down from his position on August 1, at which point Hans Vestberg will take over as chief exec. Vestberg joined Verizon last year as the company’s chief technology officer and EVP and president of Global Networks, after serving for seven years as CEO of Swedish telecom and networking company Ericsson. McAdam has been Verizon’s CEO since August 2011 and its chairman since January 2012. He will remain executive chairman until the end of the year and serve as non-executive chairman thereafter. Continue reading Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Chinese telecom equipment and systems company ZTE, which has about $17 billion in annual revenue, has ceased “major operating activities” in the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on it using U.S.-made components for the next seven years. Trading in its shares has been suspended for weeks, and its workers in the Shenzhen factory have little to do but attend occasional training sessions. New guidelines tell its staff to reassure clients, but not discuss the details of the U.S. technology the company is currently banned from using. Continue reading ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

Apple is developing a wireless headset for augmented reality and virtual reality, a project code-named T288 and slated for release in 2020, says a source. Specs for the untethered headset include 8K-resolution for each eye and high-speed, short-range wireless technology connecting the headset to an Apple processor-powered “brain.” Chief executive Tim Cook has indicated his strong interest in AR, most recently pushing it in iPhones and iPads. The box currently looks like a PC tower, but reportedly won’t be a Mac computer. Continue reading Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson announced last Thursday that the company plans to introduce the AT&T Watch live TV service in the coming weeks. The streaming service will offer a sports-free, skinny bundle of channels to general consumers for $15-per-month and for free to AT&T Wireless subscribers. “At this price point,” explains TechCrunch, “the service would be one of the lowest on the market — less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.” Continue reading AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

The FCC voted unanimously to push forward a new rule that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from buying gear from “suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security.” A second vote will make the rule final. The rule is aimed at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The day previous to the vote, the government blocked ZTE from using U.S.-made components, saying it “failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Continue reading FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm Blocked Over Security Issues

Citing national security concerns, President Donald Trump has put the brakes on Singapore-based Broadcom’s attempt to acquire rival chipmaker Qualcomm. The companies were ordered to abandon the $117 billion acquisition bid and dismiss any proposals for Broadcom’s candidates to run for seats on Qualcomm’s board. Had it been approved, the purchase would have marked the largest tech deal of its kind. Broadcom says it “strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns.” Continue reading Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm Blocked Over Security Issues

Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Following the success of Apple’s AirPod earphones, the tech giant is planning another music-centric product with a push into the high-end headphones market. This would potentially compete with its own Beats by Dre brand, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion. According to people familiar with the product’s development (Apple reps declined to comment), Apple is working on wireless, noise-canceling, over-ear headphones for launch at the end of 2018 unless ongoing development challenges push back the release. Continue reading Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Improved latency is the biggest selling point for next-generation 5G wireless technology. Verizon, Vodafone and Huawei are demonstrating the impact on wireless video, video games and virtual reality. With 5G, latency will plummet to 1 to 2 milliseconds, versus 4G’s average 50 milliseconds, positively impacting many markets, from medicine to self-driving cars. But, although the U.S. will see the first commercial 5G sometime this year, many emerging markets are still limping along with 3G and hoping for 4G connections. Continue reading Next-Gen 5G Will Unlock VR, Autonomous Vehicles and More

Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

For 5G to take off, manufacturers have to produce devices that integrate the technology. To that end, Qualcomm has partnered with 19 device makers, all of which will be relying on the chipmaker’s new Snapdragon X50 5G-compatible modem in at least one of their devices. Qualcomm has inked additional partnerships with global carriers, which will also be using the X50 modem for their 5G trials. All four major U.S. networks will begin their rollout of 5G networks by the end of this year, with full nationwide coverage by 2020. Continue reading Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

In what it calls its “best and final” offer, Broadcom raised its takeover bid yesterday for chipmaker Qualcomm from about $70 a share to $82 a share, or about $121 billion. The new offer comes a month before Qualcomm’s next shareholder meeting. A takeover would result in a company whose products would be used in most smartphones worldwide. However, “Qualcomm’s leadership fiercely opposes” the acquisition, reports The New York Times, “while analysts have said that even if shareholders approved the deal, it could be rejected on antitrust grounds.” Continue reading Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

Apple Announces Launch Date of Delayed HomePod Speaker

Apple’s wireless smart speaker HomePod will hit shelves February 9, with pre-orders starting this Friday in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The device was delayed from its intended December launch, costing Apple sales during the recent holiday shopping season. The voice-activated speaker will compete with market leaders Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. At $349, the HomePod is priced more than $200 higher than the current market leaders, but on par with the $400 Google Home Max. Apple is emphasizing the device’s “stunning sound quality” for playing music. Continue reading Apple Announces Launch Date of Delayed HomePod Speaker

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