A look at wireless-industry financial reports
Friday, July 19, 2013
Wireless companies are starting to release their earnings reports for the latest quarter. Here is a summary of reports and related developments for selected wireless companies and what they reveal about their own and the industry’s prospects.
— July 10: T-Mobile US Inc., the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, says it will let people upgrade phones more quickly for a $10 monthly fee. The new Jump plan lets customers upgrade up to twice a year for any reason. Rivals typically allow upgrades after about two years. Customers will still have to pay a deductible of up to $170 if a phone is lost, doesn’t work, has water damage or has a cracked screen. Otherwise, customers must pay the usual price for the new phone, typically $100 up front and $20 a month for two years. Jump waives any remaining payments on the old device, but the customer does not get a refund on what was already paid.
Sprint Nextel Corp., the third largest U.S. wireless carrier, formally comes under the control of the Japanese investment firm SoftBank, as Softbank Corp. completes a $21.6 billion investment in Sprint. The cash-and-stock deal gives SoftBank a 78 percent stake in Sprint. The company becomes Sprint Corp. with the change.
— July 11: Sprint introduces a new wireless plan that guarantees new and existing subscribers unlimited voice, text and data plans, in a move to differentiate its service from AT&T and Verizon. Both AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless have ditched unlimited data offerings to new customers. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says there has been a lot of chatter about when Sprint would do so as well. The guarantee, he says, is a way of telling customers that “we are not going to pull the rug out from under you.”
— July 12: AT&T says it will acquire Leap Wireless, the service provider of pre-paid, contract-free plans under the Cricket brand, for about $1.19 billion in cash. The purchase gives the nation’s second largest cellphone carrier a leg-up in serving customers who prefer not to have lengthy contracts. It also would give AT&T the right to using Leap’s unused airwaves in expanding its existing network.
— July 16: AT&T says it is introducing an option called AT&T Next on July 26 to make it easier for customers to upgrade their cellphones more frequently. Instead of paying, for example, $200 up front to buy a smartphone, customers would pay monthly installments of $15 to $50 on top of their service plan, depending on the device. The new plan is designed to satisfy customers who want the latest and greatest devices, but it will cost more overall than the usual way of paying.
— July 18: Verizon Wireless, the country’s largest cellphone carrier, says it’s joining AT&T and T-Mobile in providing an installment plan for its phones, aiming to satisfy customers who want to upgrade their devices faster or avoid paying the upfront cost of their phones. The plan, dubbed Edge, will be introduced Aug. 25 and allows the buyer to spread the full retail price of the phone, without subsidies, over 24 months. Verizon Communications Inc.’s wireless division added 941,000 devices to its contract-based plans in the April-to-June period, exceeding analyst estimates and continuing a strong run.
— July 23: AT&T Inc.
— July 30: Sprint Corp.
— Aug. 8: T-Mobile US Inc.
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