AT&T to unlock iPhones this Easter onward

AT&T has released an official statement today confirming they will begin unlocking iPhones from tomorrow, Easter Sunday, provided your accounts are in good standing with the company. Here’s their statement:

Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.

This comes as a big relief for those who always wanted a way out but were stuck with AT&T’s locked iPhone contracts.

AT&T, Verizon battle for customers as LTE iPad pricing hits the board

This is one interesting battle which is being undermined at present by a majority. The moment Apple unveiled the new iPad, all eyes were glued to the improvements it carried. But the most important, for me, is the price points that carriers like AT&T and Verizon will keep for its customers. The suspense is now finally over as both the carriers have released their own pricing. From Apple’s product page:

As you can see, the battle is interesting. AT&T has better pricing for mid-range bandwidth whereas Verizon has the trumps for out-of-the-house usage (including a monster 10GB for $80 plan). If you aren’t in LTE land, AT&T’s network is much speedier especially with the new iPad radios which allow for “faster than iPhone” 21Mbps.

Also, interestingly, HSPA+ is now called “4G” on current iPhones by AT&T.

Sprint outs new iPhone 4S ad: Unlimited iPhone (video)

Just a couple of days after Verizon’s AT&T-mocking iPhone 4S advert, Sprint has released one of their own, titled Unlimited iPhone. The video (below) is just another tactical move in the ongoing three-way war between Verizon, AT&T and Sprint — all of whom are trying to attract as many customers as they can with each claiming to provide lower rates and better call quality with less downtime.

Verizon mocks AT&T yet again with new iPhone 4S commercial (video)

Forgot their rivalry? Verizon wants to remind you that the bitterness between them and AT&T is still there with a nicely executed iPhone 4S advertisement, mocking AT&T and its iCoverage with the help of a sinking boat.

Oh my, that sinking feeling!

Carrier wars: iPhone 4S pre-orders begin today

For those of you who were caught up by a gloomy Thursday, here’s a reminder that the new iPhone 4S is available to be booked from today, 3:01am ET onwards. And for the first time, people in the U.S will have up to 3 carriers to choose from to get an iPhone — AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

Carrier Wars

There are a number of factors that influence which carrier to go for but the number one factor has to be good call network and services provided by the carrier. Take note:

  • Sprint offers an unlimited Data Plan (Through October).
  • AT&T’s GSM network will allow faster 14.4 Mbps (theoretical) data speeds and talk and simultaneous data and more international roaming options.
  • Verizon and AT&T have free hotspots on their 4GB and up plans while Sprint’s is $30/month.

If that isn’t enough, this chart from PCMag will surely help you choose the best available option.

Google retains most valuable brand ranking, Apple moves up to #2

Google have retained their numero uno status in the battle of the brands according to a London-based research firm, Brand Finance, while “innovative design, loyal consumer base and well-executed marketing activities” have bought Apple to the number two spot behind Google, overtaking Microsoft, Wal-Mart, IBM, Bank of America and GE in the process.

Google tops the chart with a brand value of almost $48.3 billion (up 9%), while Apple follows with a $39.3 billion valuation (up 33%) and Microsoft was down 9% to $39 billion in the top 30 U.S. brands analyzed by the Brand Finance. Here’s the top 16 brands:

Full list available here (PDF)

AT&T + T-Mobile merger hits roadblock

Its no news that there are parties which do not want the AT&T + T-Mobile merger to go through, including the US Government. But now, Sprint too has stood up, not for the first time though, this time filing a suit to stop the merger that will allegedly create the “duopoly” between the merged parties and Verizon, and will leave Sprint out in the cold. Head past the break for the full press release.

Sprint Files Suit to Block Proposed AT&T and T-Mobile Transaction

WASHINGTON–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–Sprint Nextel [NYSE:S] today brought suit against AT&T, Inc., AT&T Mobility, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile seeking to block the proposed acquisition as a violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia as a related case to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) suit against the proposed acquisition.

“Sprint opposes AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile,” said Susan Z. Haller, vice president-Litigation, Sprint. “With today’s legal action, we are continuing that advocacy on behalf of consumers and competition, and expect to contribute our expertise and resources in proving that the proposed transaction is illegal.”

Sprint’s lawsuit focuses on the competitive and consumer harms which would result from a takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T. The proposed takeover would:

Harm retail consumers and corporate customers by causing higher prices and less innovation.

Entrench the duopoly control of AT&T and Verizon, the two “Ma Bell” descendants, of the almost one-quarter of a trillion dollar wireless market. As a result of the transaction, AT&T and Verizon would control more than three-quarters of that market and 90 percent of the profits.

Harm Sprint and the other independent wireless carriers. If the transaction were to be allowed, a combined AT&T and T-Mobile would have the ability to use its control over backhaul, roaming and spectrum, and its increased market position to exclude competitors, raise their costs, restrict their access to handsets, damage their businesses and ultimately to lessen competition.

Via Engadget

AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint to bring Samsung Galaxy S II to the U.S this fall

The world’s thinnest 4G smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II, is headed to the U.S this fall (finally) and will be available via major carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint (NO Verizon).

Samsung’s major iPhone-competitor has been a super hit in Korea and Europe, roping in millions already for the Japanese smartphone-maker. The S II’s specs, coupled with its success elsewhere, ignited a real desire in all of America to get their hands on this thin smart-machine. And now, finally, their wish will come true.

In case you don’t know (seriously?), S II is Samsung’s latest iPhone-competing Android offering that’s on the brink of becoming the greatest smartphone ever. Sporting a 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an 8-megapixel camera with flash capable of recording 1080p video and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, the S II is capable of outputting fully uncompressed 1080p video via HDMI. For more information, visit this page. For S II’s comparison with iPhone 4, check out this page. Want more? Check these two pages also: 1 | 2

P.S. Notice the slight differences in the design of the device for each carrier? Which one would you go for?

Exclusive Apple iPhone Nano (N97) mockup

It sure seems a job well done on this iPhone Nano (N97) mockup, sent to 9to5mac by one of their readers. Whether Apple will turn it into a reality i don’t know and i won’t even talk about it and leave it up to you to contemplate, but one thing’s for sure that you can see above but won’t be able to see in reality is full bars on AT&T!! Seriously, does it even exist?!?!

BREAKING: T-Mobile acquired by AT&T, won’t get iPhone yet

And now its down to just one! AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile comes as a big surprise to everyone as US users now have one less choice for mobile service operator.

The result of this move is AT&T-Mobile — a joint venture — which will now form a monopoly for GSM/EDGE/HSPA+ phones in America. It would also create the largest US carrier with 130 million subscribers blowing away new iPhone-r Verizon’s 90+ Million. The move leaves Americans with exactly 1 GSM carrier to choose from.

What’s interesting to see is that the deal, worth $39 billion, is still not good enough to get T-Mobile an iPhone. Apparently, T-Mobile will still remain “T-Mobile” and will be an independent company. Your billing will also remain exactly how it is today and T-Mobile will be your biller.

T-Mobile USA remains an independent company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.

To use an iPhone with T-Mobile, your only option is unlocking it.

Press Release

AT&T TO ACQUIRE T-MOBILE USA FROM DEUTSCHE TELEKOM

Provides fast, efficient and certain solution to impending spectrum exhaust challenges facing AT&T and T-Mobile USA in key markets due to explosive demand for mobile broadband

Enhances network capacity, output and quality in near term for both companies’ customers

AT&T commits to expand 4G LTE deployment to an additional 46.5 million Americans, including in rural, smaller communities, for a total of 294 million or 95% of the U.S. population

Provides 4G LTE service for T-Mobile USA’s 34 million subscribers

More than $8 billion in incremental infrastructure spend by a U.S. company over seven years, enabling nation’s high-tech industry, innovation and economic growth

Creates substantial value for AT&T shareholders through large, straightforward synergies

DALLAS, TEXAS AND BONN, GERMANY March 20, 2011— AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Deutsche Telekom AG (FWB: DT) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a cash-and-stock transaction currently valued at approximately $39 billion. The agreement has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies.

AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA provides an optimal combination of network assets to add capacity sooner than any alternative, and it provides an opportunity to improve network quality in the near term for both companies’ customers. In addition, it provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband.

With this transaction, AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns.  This helps achieve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and President Obama’s goals to connect “every part of America to the digital age.” T-Mobile USA does not have a clear path to delivering LTE.

“This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO. “It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced LTE capabilities to more than 294 million people. Mobile broadband networks drive economic opportunity everywhere, and they enable the expanding high-tech ecosystem that includes device makers, cloud and content providers, app developers, customers, and more. During the past few years, America’s high-tech industry has delivered innovation at unprecedented speed, and this combination will accelerate its continued growth.”

Stephenson continued, “This transaction delivers significant customer, shareowner and public benefits that are available at this level only from the combination of these two companies with complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations. We are confident in our ability to execute a seamless integration, and with additional spectrum and network capabilities, we can better meet our customers’ current demands, build for the future and help achieve the President’s goals for a high-speed, wirelessly connected America.”

Deutsche Telekom Chairman and CEO René Obermann said, “After evaluating strategic options for T-Mobile USA, I am confident that AT&T is the best partner for our customers, shareholders and the mobile broadband ecosystem. Our common network technology makes this a logical combination and provides an efficient path to gaining the spectrum and network assets needed to provide T-Mobile customers with 4G LTE and the best devices. Also, the transaction returns significant value to Deutsche Telekom shareholders and allows us to retain exposure to the U.S. market.”

As part of the transaction, Deutsche Telekom will receive an equity stake in AT&T that, based on the terms of the agreement, would give Deutsche Telekom an ownership interest in AT&T of approximately 8 percent. A Deutsche Telekom representative will join the AT&T Board of Directors.

Competition and Pricing
The U.S. wireless industry is one of the most fiercely competitive markets in the world and will remain so after this deal. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world where a large majority of consumers can choose from five or more wireless providers in their local market. For example, in 18 of the top 20 U.S. local markets, there are five or more providers. Local market competition is escalating among larger carriers, low-cost carriers and several regional wireless players with nationwide service plans. This intense competition is only increasing with the build-out of new 4G networks and the emergence of new market entrants.

The competitiveness of the market has directly benefited consumers. A 2010 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) states the overall average price (adjusted for inflation) for wireless services declined 50 percent from 1999 to 2009, during a period which saw five major wireless mergers.

Addresses wireless spectrum challenges facing AT&T, T-Mobile USA, their customers, and U.S. policymakers
This transaction quickly provides the spectrum and network efficiencies necessary for AT&T to address impending spectrum exhaust in key markets driven by the exponential growth in mobile broadband traffic on its network. AT&T’s mobile data traffic grew 8,000 percent over the past four years and by 2015 it is expected to be eight to 10 times what it was in 2010. Put another way, all of the mobile traffic volume AT&T carried during 2010 is estimated to be carried in just the first six to seven weeks of 2015. Because AT&T has led the U.S. in smartphones, tablets and e-readers – and as a result, mobile broadband – it requires additional spectrum before new spectrum will become available.  In the long term, the entire industry will need additional spectrum to address the explosive growth in demand for mobile broadband.

Improves service quality for U.S. wireless customers
AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers will see service improvements – including improved voice quality – as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure. At closing, AT&T will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have taken on average five years to build without the transaction, and double that in some markets.  The combination will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30 percent in some of its most populated areas, while avoiding the need to construct additional cell towers. This transaction will increase spectrum efficiency to increase capacity and output, which not only improves service, but is also the best way to ensure competitive prices and services in a market where demand is extremely high and spectrum is in short supply.

Expands 4G LTE deployment to 95 percent of U.S. population – urban and rural areas
This transaction will directly benefit an additional 46.5 million Americans – equivalent to the combined populations of the states of New York and Texas – who will, as a result of this combination, have access to AT&T’s latest 4G LTE technology. In terms of area covered, the transaction enables 4G LTE deployment to an additional 1.2 million square miles, equivalent to 4.5 times the size of the state of Texas.  Rural and smaller communities will substantially benefit from the expansion of 4G LTE deployment, increasing the competitiveness of the businesses and entrepreneurs in these areas.

Increases AT&T’s investment in the U.S.
The acquisition will increase AT&T’s infrastructure investment in the U.S. by more than $8 billion over seven years. Expansion of AT&T’s 4G LTE network is an important foundation for the next wave of innovation and growth in mobile broadband, ensuring the U.S. continues to lead the world in wireless technology and availability.  It makes T-Mobile USA, currently a German-owned U.S. telecom network, part of a U.S.-based company.

An impressive, combined workforce
Bringing AT&T and T-Mobile USA together will create an impressive workforce that is best positioned to compete in today’s global economy. Post-closing, AT&T intends to tap into the significant knowledge and expertise held by employees of both AT&T and T-Mobile USA to succeed. AT&T is the only major U.S. wireless company with a union workforce, offering leading wages, benefits, training and development for employees. The combined company will continue to have a strong employee and operations base in the Seattle area.

Consistent with AT&T’s track record of value-enhancing acquisitions
AT&T has a strong track record of executing value-enhancing acquisitions and expects to create substantial value for shareholders through large, straightforward synergies with a run rate of more than $3 billion, three years after closing onward (excluding integration costs). The value of the synergies is expected to exceed the purchase price of $39 billion. Revenue synergies come from opportunities to increase smartphone penetration and data average revenue per user, with cost savings coming from network efficiencies, subscriber and support savings, reduced churn and avoided capital and spectrum expenditures.

The transaction will enhance margin potential and improve the company’s long-term revenue growth potential as it benefits from a more robust mobile broadband platform for new services.

Additional financial information
The $39 billion purchase price will include a cash payment of $25 billion with the balance to be paid using AT&T common stock, subject to adjustment.  AT&T has the right to increase the cash portion of the purchase price by up to $4.2 billion with a corresponding reduction in the stock component, so long as Deutsche Telekom receives at least a 5 percent equity ownership interest in AT&T.

The number of AT&T shares issued will be based on the AT&T share price during the 30-day period prior to closing, subject to a 7.5 percent collar; there is a one-year lock-up period during which Deutsche Telekom cannot sell shares.

The cash portion of the purchase price will be financed with new debt and cash on AT&T’s balance sheet. AT&T has an 18-month commitment for a one-year unsecured bridge term facility underwritten by J.P. Morgan for $20 billion.  AT&T assumes no debt from T-Mobile USA or Deutsche Telekom and continues to have a strong balance sheet.

The transaction is expected to be earnings (excluding non-cash amortization and integration costs) accretive in the third year after closing. Pro-forma for 2010, this transaction increases AT&T’s total wireless revenues from $58.5 billion to nearly $80 billion, and increases the percentage of AT&T’s total revenues from wireless, wireline data and managed services to approximately 80 percent.

This transaction will allow for sufficient cash flow to support AT&T’s dividend. AT&T has increased its dividend for 27 consecutive years, a matter decided by AT&T’s Board of Directors.

Conditions
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, a reverse breakup fee in certain circumstances, and other customary regulatory and other closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in approximately 12 months.

Advisors
Greenhill & Co., J.P. Morgan and Evercore Partners acted as financial advisors and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Arnold & Porter, and Crowell & Moring provided legal advice to AT&T.

Conference Call/Webcast
On Monday, March 21, 2011, at 8 a.m. ET, AT&T Inc. will host a live video and audio webcast presentation regarding its announcement to acquire T-Mobile USA. Links to the webcast and accompanying documents will be available on AT&T’s Investor Relations website. Please log in 15 minutes ahead of time to test your browser and register for the call.

For dial-in access, please dial +1 (888) 517-2464 within the U.S. or +1 (630) 827-6816 outside the U.S. after 7:30 a.m. ET. Enter passcode 8442095# to join or ask the conference call operator for the AT&T Investor Relations event.

The webcast will be available for replay on AT&T’s Investor Relations website on March 21, 2011, starting at 12:30 p.m. ET through April 21, 2011. An archive of the conference call will also be available during this time period. To access the recording, please dial +1 (877) 870-5176 within the U.S. or +1 (858) 384-5517 outside the U.S. and enter reservation code 29362481#.

Transaction Website
For more information on the transaction, including background information and factsheets, visitwww.MobilizeEverything.com.