AT&T + DirecTV?

AT&T has approached DirecTV about a possible acquisition and “exploratory talks” are under way, according to the LA Times.

A combined DirecTV and AT&T would become the second-largest pay-TV business in the United States. DirecTV is already the largest worldwide, with a massive presence in Latin America.

The deal is expected to be worth more than $40 billion, and would combine DirecTV’s approximately 20 million TV subscribers with AT&T’s existing 5.7 million U-Verse TV subscribers.

A combined AT&T and DirecTV would go head-to-head with Comcast. AT&T also pays billions of dollars in programming fees each year for U-Verse, and could gain more leverage against programmers such as Disney, Fox and Viacom.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House and Cablevision joined together in 2012 to share Wi-Fi hot spots to provide Internet access for their broadband customers that total about 41 million. Comcast alone has added 1 million hot spots by deploying Wi-Fi routers that beam an additional “public” hot spot available to its customers.

Comcast is enabling Wi-Fi via strand mounts and merchant access points. Tom Nagel, Comcast’s senior vice president of business development, would like to take over the “free” WiFi band, reports CED Magazine:

“I think we really want to get to 160 MHZ block channels. Today Wi-Fi is at 20 MHz channels. If I can do 160 MHZ, we can generate something close to a gigabit Wi-Fi and doing that not only makes the outdoor broadband better, but all of the in home connectivity better as well.”

DirecTV’s 20 million rooftop terminals could be the hidden asset for AT&T. They could be a platform for hotspots and small cells.

If AT&T truly wants to install 40,000 “small cells”, along with WiFi and 2.3 and 3.5 GHz “hotspots”, DirecTV rooftops could be a good way to go. In addition, DirecTV would likely have no “spectrum cap” in the 600 MHz auction.

DishTV currently has 50 MHz of 2 GHz spectrum along with a 6 MHz chunk in the 700 MHz band — and 14 million rooftop terminals. How Dish will make their spectrum available is still unknown.

Perhaps the rumored AT&T/DirecTV merger is merely a leak to counter any other potential deals.

  • Verizon has their fiber to the home infrastructure and Intel’s settop box. Twenty million rooftops could deliver wireless mobile TV.
  • Google is planning fiber in dozens of cities. Who better than Dish to deliver an “alternative infrastructure” for wireless — without the bloated telco legacy.

Mobile is in Google’s DNA. Nobody could count them out in the 600MHz auction next year. They’ll need infrastructure. Dish could be a good partner.

Each Google Fiber city has been busy tackling a checklist of items to prepare for the fiber construction.

For example, fiber huts on city land are the terminus for fiber loops, and may offer potential for the Cloud RAN.

In Google Fiber cities and AT&T’s Fiber cities, Cloud basestations could be the technology of choice. Infrastructure costs are half. Small cells, about the size of a WiFi access point, are coming.

The land grab for the lower 5 Ghz band is on. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Google, Facebook and Amazon all want a piece of that action.

See: Comcast Buying Time Warner Cable, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block Auction, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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