COMET News: February 2014

John Legere is doing something that hasn’t been done in years: injecting some real competition and excitement into the US telecommunications marketplace.

"Finally we agree with AT&T on something: Faster is better," said Legere. "I warned the competition this day would come, and millions of speed tests from real people using their own phones prove it: T-Mobile's nationwide 4G LTE network is the fastest network in the nation - bar none." 

Then he went after banks and financial institutions with an update to T-Mo’s Mobile Money service that eliminates many of the fees associated with checking accounts, such as ATM fees, check cashing fees, and monthly maintenance fees. "Millions of Americans pay outrageous fees to check cashers, payday lenders and other predatory businesses - just for the right to use their own money,” said the brash CEO. “Mobile Money shifts the balance of power for T-Mobile customers and keeps more money in their pockets."

To cap it all off, T-Mobile promoted a concert for Macklemore that was open to the public and larger than the private showing AT&T threw at CES—the very event Legere had to be escorted from earlier.

Beyond the bluster, Legere is doing something that hasn’t been done in years: injecting some real competition and excitement into the U.S. telecommunications marketplace. Some pundits are calling him the Steve Jobs of telecom; and while that may be a stretch, Legere appears to be cut of the same cloth. As he told NPR in an interview that aired on January 20, “We are either going to take over this whole industry, or these <expletives> are going to change.”

NSA faces lawsuits over surveillance

Are the tactics used by the NSA to snoop on communications legal? Courts in the U.S. are of differing opinions, and the question is headed for the Supreme Court. Meanwhile in France, Orange believes the NSA has crossed the line and is reportedly preparing a lawsuit. An Orange spokesperson claims the NSA went too far when it tapped into SE-ME-WE4 undersea cable. "We will take legal action in the next few days because we want to know more about the eventuality that Orange data may have been intercepted," an Orange spokesperson told Reuters on December 30, 2013.

There is no word yet as to whether or not the suit has been filed, but Orange is not alone. The ACLU has filed its own lawsuit, and so has U.S. Senator Rand Paul. Senator Paul has gone further, and expressed a desire to hold liable the tech companies who have helped the NSA carry out its surveillance. He believes that companies have a duty to honor privacy contracts with their customers, and when tech companies violate these contracts, they should not have immunity from prosecution. “I don’t like immunity. I think, really, you should honor your contract,” he told TechCrunch in late January. “This is something they [tech companies] may not like me for, but we made a mistake in the Patriot Act by saying that we immunize the telephone companies and Internet people from being sued,” he continued.

TV isn’t going anywhere

Despite reports to the contrary, the television industry is alive and well; just ask any of the millions of folks who unwrapped a screen this past holiday season. Or check out the latest report from Strategy Analytics which tallied 5.1 billion TV-addressable screens on the planet in 2013, a number that's rising.

"TV's impending death has been overstated by some commentators," wrote David Watkins, Director, Connected Home Devices (CHD), in a press release. "The reality is that, while the television industry is changing and will look different in the future, it is very much alive. TV screens are multiplying rapidly through widespread adoption of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, and consumers consider these screens as alternatives or supplements to traditional big TV screens."

David Mercer, VP and Principal Analyst, Strategy Analytics, argues that multiscreen is here, and everyone in the value chain must embrace this reality. “TV and video companies, whether they are in content production, distribution, or any related discipline, must get out of the mindset that their business is purely about the traditional TV screen,” said Mercer. “The multiscreen TV era is well and truly upon us and this research demonstrates that a huge new opportunity is emerging for those prepared to adopt multiscreen strategies."

At the same time, the TV screen is still tops when it comes to the multi-screen experience. A new study published by TiVo indicates that 76 percent of viewers focus on actually watching what is on TV, even when muti-tasking and otherwise engaged in a multi-screen experience.

Getting busy in Barcelona

Mobile World Congress is around the corner, and this year the event promises to be bigger than ever. The GSMA just released an expanded list of keynote presenters, which includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The conference has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact, and is poised to be certified as the largest carbon-neutral tradeshow on the planet. Pipeline will be on the ground reporting live—see you in Spain!


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