Cincinnati Bell, the nation's ninth-largest wireless carrier, announced that it will shut down its wireless network and sell its spectrum--essentially an acknowledgement that it cannot compete in today's wireless industry. So what does this mean for the rest of the nation's smaller regional wireless players that continue to struggle to compete with the Tier 1 wireless operators?
Cincinnati Bell confirmed that it will sell its wireless spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless for $210 million, a move that should allow it to more effectively focus on its growing wireline-based Fioptics broadband offerings for consumers and small to medium businesses.
Verizon Wireless will buy Cincinnati Bell's wireless spectrum in a deal valued at $210 million, effectively ending the regional carrier's wireless operations. According to Strategy Analytics, Cincinnati Bell is the nation's ninth largest wireless carrier.
Now that the FCC has set a band plan for the auction of AWS-3 spectrum this fall, a complex bit of game theory is underway to see which spectrum blocks Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile US will bid for.
Verizon Wireless is offering 1 GB of extra data per month to customers who activate a tablet on the carrier's new "More Everything" shared data plans. The offer comes as Verizon and its competitors turn to tablets to spur sales of data services.
Verizon Wireless reduced the price of its More Everything plans at 10 GB per month or more for customers on its handset upgrade program. The carrier said that, for customers on its Edge upgrade program, it will now cut $25 off the cost of a line of service to a smartphone if customers choose a data bucket of 10 GB or more. The result exactly matches the pricing AT&T Mobility launched in February--four smartphones sharing 10 GB of data for $160. AT&T has been heavily advertising the plan since it launched in February, and Verizon is likely moving to stymie AT&T's momentum with the offering.
In a new FCC filing, AT&T reiterated its interest in LTE Broadcast technology using the eMBMS standard. But the carrier did not confirm that it would launch the service, only that it was "exploring the possibility of offering eMBMS services."
The FCC's decision to license AWS-3 spectrum bands in more 5x5 MHz blocks than originally contemplated has generated praise from smaller carriers, though Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are still likely going to be the major bidders in the spectrum auction scheduled for this fall.
The FCC voted to move forward with rules for the auction of AWS-3 spectrum later this fall, in what will be the most significant and sizable auction of airwaves since the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Wireless carriers have been clamoring for years for the spectrum, but many technical rules for how some spectrum will be shared with federal users still need to be worked out. And though Verizon Wireless and AT&T are likely going to be major bidders in the AWS-3 auction, smaller carriers could grab some airwaves as well.
Despite wireless operators offering a variety of pricing discounts to some customers, the pricing turmoil in the market has not really impacted the Tier 1 carriers' bottom lines, according to analysts at New Street Research. In fact, the analysts say carriers are set to report stronger-than-expected quarterly subscribers for the first quarter, thanks in large part to booming tablet subscription adoptions.