Carrier Catch-Up: A Look At The Latest Buzz From The Telecom Industry

Telecom Market Heating Up

From proposed mergers, to the battle over the life of net neutrality regulations, the federal government has found itself highly involved in the telecom industry so far this summer. The market continued to heat up as the country's leading service providers put a stop to location-based tracking by cutting contracts with third-parties, and Comcast and Disney continued to duke it out over who will own 21st Century Fox.

Here's CRN's roundup of news from the industry-leading service providers and other attention-grabbing headlines that happened in the telecom industry in June.

Carriers Put A Stop To Location Tracking

The country's leading carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon -- tamped down on the unauthorized collection of customer location information by cutting off contracts with location aggregators at the end of June.

These providers have been working with third-party data aggregators to enable services such as targeted advertising, and location-based services, including roadside assistance. After a U.S. senator last month turned up questionable data handling practices by third-party providers, including letting unauthorized parties have access to the real-time location of wireless callers, the four carriers began their own investigations that led to these providers ending their contracts with the data aggregators. It is yet to be seen whether the location-based services that solution providers offer today will be impacted.

Net Neutrality Rules Come To An End

The beginning of June saw the 2015 net neutrality regulations run out, which ended the so-called internet fairness rules that disallowed blocking, slowing down, or paid prioritization of web traffic put in place under the Obama administration.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, said its new regulations would let telecom providers potentially block and throttle traffic from other internet or content providers, such as Google and Facebook, but that these broadband providers will have to disclose to users how they handle web traffic. More than 35 states have sued the FCC to stop the repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules, and a federal appeals court in Washington is expected to hear the case in the coming months.

Comcast Outbid By Disney For 21st Century Fox, But Battle Continues

Comcast put down a $65 billion bid for entertainment giant 21st Century Fox in May in an attempt to outbid Disney, but Disney fired back in June by upping its offer for the company's film and TV assets at a price of $38 per share, or roughly $71.3 billion.

Fox's board is set to vote on Disney's new bid on July 27. So far, the board has suggested that Disney's offer is more likely to receive required regulatory approvals, but Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and his team is reportedly making plans to sweeten its own deal for 21st Century Fox.

Sprint, T-Mobile Argue For Their Merger Plans

Following two failed merger attempts, wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile in April entered into a definitive agreement to combine in a deal which values Sprint at $26 billion and T-Mobile at $55 billion.

In June, the third and fourth largest carriers in the country, T-Mobile and Sprint, released a Public Interest Statement in support of their merger to the FCC, arguing that the proposed combined carrier is a necessity for the U.S. telecom market. The carriers said that together, their customer bases would make the new carrier more able to compete with Verizon and AT&T. The new carrier's 5G holdings would also drive new innovation in tech, according to the two companies. It is uncertain whether the FCC or the Department of Justice will attempt to block the deal.

AT&T Reportedly Planning To Buy All Of Otter Media

On the heels of its $85 billion Time Warner Deal, reports surfaced that AT&T once again opened its checkbook in June. The Dallas-based carrier reportedly plans to acquire all of Otter Media, the internet video company currently valued around $1 billion that the carrier co-owns with The Chernin Group.

The deal, which has been in the works for a couple of years, was reportedly on hold until AT&T’s Time Warner acquisition closed. Owning all of Otter will give AT&T full control of assets including video company FullScreen, and Crunchyroll, a subscription anime service. The deal is expected to close this summer, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Frontier CFO Tenders Resignation

Telecom service provider Frontier Communications is on the search for its next CFO.

Perley McBride, the company's CFO since 2016, announced that he will be resigning at the end of August citing personal reasons. According to the Norwalk, Conn.-based provider, McBride will be returning to Atlanta, where his family lives, but will help with the transition in the meantime as the company looks for its next CFO. McBride previously served as CFO at Cable & Wireless Communications. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and CFO at Cricket Communications and Leap Wireless International.