AT&T has been in talks to acquire DirecTV for a while now. And considering the continuous rise of OTT services, it makes sense that a major telecom company like AT&T would take interest DirecTV’s subscribers. But that’s not the only reason that AT&T is going after DirectTV—reportedly the negotiation is also heavily depending on the “NFL Sunday Ticket” that DirecTV offers football fans. In this era of time-shifted viewing, live sport is practically the only dependable rating performer left. And now, with 99% of DirecTV’s stakeholders on board, it looks like AT&T may be able to have its OTT cake and eat it, too.
Mobile and Internet service provider AT&T has announced that its new Internet plan will come with access to HBO Go and a free subscription to Amazon Prime, which also includes over-the-top (OTT) services. As TV becomes something we watch on the Internet and online video becomes something we watch on our TVs, the line between who makes and who delivers video content has become further blurred. To learn more about how such blurred line is impacting the TV industry, check out our OTT-focused white paper.
After signing similar deals with Comcast and Verizon earlier this year, Netflix has now signed a peering agreement with AT&T in aim to improve streaming speed for its subscribers using AT&T’s network, which have typically ranked low on Netflix’s list of ISP speeds. Following its report of record-high subscriber number and revenue, Netflix unquestionably has the capital to keep paying ISPs to sidestep the bottleneck in connection and secure the quality of its service across different networks. But as the leader in OtT video market keeps growing stronger, it is entirely possible that one day the ISPs would be the ones paying for Netflix’s service, just like the way they are paying the cable TV providers for their content now.
Syntonic Wireless unveiled a new app that promises to take advantage of the “Sponsored Data” program of AT&T, which detracts the data you used on branded content from your monthly data plan, and lets app developers and brands pick up the tab instead. A demo of this “content store” app shows many features — from installing apps, to browsing online stores, and eventually streaming branded videos — with none of these eating into your data limit. This new development suggests a refreshing way of encouraging screen-shoppers and mobile-viewers by reducing the hefty cost of data on the consumers’ end. How well the mobile users would embrace that, however, remains to be seen.
Bold, or stupid? The T-Mobile keynote was full of surprising moments, not least of which was the announcement of Contract Freedom – or in other words, how to get customers to join T-Mobile. To do this, they’ll pay your termination fee from other carriers – while also counting on you to turn in your existing phone, buy a new T-Mobile phone, sign up for a T-Mobile plan, and bring your number over to T-Mobile. The timing of the announcement is quite ironic, as the “bold new plan” comes on the heels of AT&T’s announcement to pay $200 per line that users switch onto its network. Whether mobile carriers are getting desperate in the face of increased consumer options, or whether this is just a game of matching the competition remains to be seen. What’s sure, though, is that carriers are trying to expand options and ways for consumers to get onto their service.
In a somewhat surprising, if inevitable, development of the wearable tech trend, FiLIP, a smartwatch and “locator” for kids, is being marketed to both parents and children via AT&T’s lineup as an exclusive device. It doesn’t have the functionality of something like the Galaxy Gear, but it’s mostly a colorful method for keeping track of your kids, while also keeping tabs on who they call. Parents can “whitelist” phone numbers, can set boundary limits for their children, and will get text alerts if their kids go “out-of’bounds.” It’s the dream of helicopter parents world-wide, and should make raising children that much more over-protective. How well this device sells might be an indicator of a new market of parenting devices, and should be watched.
Boingo today announced that it will now offer AT&T subscribers access to its hotspots at international airports beginning today, with service expansions planned throughout the rest of the year. Simultaneously, Boingo subscribers will be able to access AT&T hotspots free of charge. This expansion means that AT&T users traveling abroad will have a much wider Wi-Fi access footprint, which should ease roaming charges for the customers. The arrangement ultimately shores up gaps in both partners’ networks, and helps to reduce AT&T’s network congestion, which should, in the long run, reduce infrastructure costs. In the end, customers win with this move, as it’s now likely more difficult to run into overage territory, and much easier to access higher quality Internet access in a wider variety of locations.
T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it will finally be carrying the iPhone starting on April 12th. The iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s LTE network, which was also launched on Tuesday, but older models will not run on this new network. As a part of it’s recently touted “Uncarrier” plan, T-Mobile won’t force users into signing a two-year contract and will allow them to pay full price for the phone, or to spread the cost over 24 months with installment plans – for example a 16GB iPhone 5 will be $99 up front with 24 months of $20 payments, for a total of $579, which is $70 less than buying the phone from Apple.
AT&T’s second touchscreen LTE mobile hotspot, the Sierra Wireless device called Unite, was announced today just four days before it is available for purchase through all conventional AT&T channels. With a 2.4″ touchscreen display that prominently features data usage and Wi-Fi information on the home screen, Unite is primed for customers looking to expand their wireless connections beyond the traditional grid. The device boasts 10 hours of battery life with regular use, along with ten days of standby, for customers who need the device for long stretches of time away from the desk. It’s just one way to stay connected on the go, and for $0.99 represents AT&T’s attempt to bring its LTE and wireless plans to the budget-conscious marketplace.
Carriers AT&T and Verizon are sitting on some of the most valuable consumer data available so it’s not surprising their creating their own marketing services. AT&T’s offering, called AT&T Alerts will deliver location-based SMS offers while Verizon is leveraging location, demographics and browsing history to deliver personalized deals. Both products require users to opt-in, given the sensitive user data and recent privacy concerns like the Carrier IQ incident.