Drew FitzGerald

Verizon to Buy TracFone in Deal Valued at Up to $7 Billion

Verizon agreed to buy TracFone, a provider of wireless prepaid services, in a deal worth up to $7 billion in cash and stock, further consolidating the US cellular market. TracFone, a unit of Mexico’s América Móvil SAB, has about 21 million prepaid customers in the US under its namesake brand as well as StraightTalk and Net10. The company doesn’t run its own physical network in the US and instead rides on other cellphone carriers’ systems for a fee and then resells service under its own brands.

AT&T Chief Says Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a ‘Big Mistake’

Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said in a staffwide memo  that the company had made a “big mistake” by hiring President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Amazon Cleared for Space Launch, but Broadband Venture Questions Remain

Amazon's plan to spend more than $10 billion on a constellation of more than 3,200 low-Earth-orbit, internet-beaming satellites won Federal Communications Commission approval. But industry insiders are guessing about which customers the company plans to serve. Amazon told regulators its satellites could help bridge the digital divide by bringing high-speed broadband to areas that lack competitive internet service.

White House to Retool Pentagon Airwaves for 5G Networks

The Trump administration outlined a plan to commercialize a swath of military radio frequencies for use in next-generation 5G networks, yielding to cellphone carriers that have sought the spectrum for their own use. The White House plan would arrange for the Federal Communications Commission to auction 100 megahertz of prized mid-band spectrum starting in December 2021, allowing telecom companies to bid on licenses for them.

T-Mobile Overtakes AT&T to Become No. 2 Carrier

T-Mobile said it has vaulted ahead of rival AT&T in the race for wireless customers to become the country’s second-largest cellphone carrier. T-Mobile ended June with 98.3 million US customers, excluding wholesale subscribers on other brands that use its network. AT&T reported 92.9 million prepaid and postpaid customers, a tally that didn’t count wholesale accounts or connected devices such as Wi-Fi hotspots and car sensors.

White House Considers Broad Federal Intervention to Secure 5G Future

Trump administration officials have talked about inserting the federal government deep into the private sector to stiffen global competition against Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The ideas -- discussed intermittently with US tech giants, private-equity firms, and veteran telecom executives -- include prodding large US technology companies like Cisco to acquire European companies Ericsson or Nokia.

Facebook Investment in Africa to Expand Internet Capacity Moves Ahead

Facebook’s investment in an enormous underwater internet cable circling Africa will move forward with help from partners in China, Saudi Arabia and Europe. The 2Africa internet project, called Simba in its planning phase, would link 16 African countries with cable routes to Europe and the Arabian Peninsula. The 2Africa system would involve a massive investment even by Silicon Valley standards.

Senate Panel Seeks Scrutiny of China Telecom Companies After It Sees Lax US Oversight

An influential Senate panel is calling for stricter oversight of Chinese telecommunications companies operating in the US after an investigation found years of weak supervision by regulators threatens national security. In a forthcoming report, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will level sharp criticism at a group of telecom regulators for failing to scrutinize the Chinese companies and the way they handle data going back nearly two decades.

A Partisan Debate Emerges Over Internet Dead Zones

Speedier 5G wireless technology is rekindling a long-running debate over the best way to reach America’s internet dead zones: by wire or by wave. Cellphone carriers including Verizon and T-Mobile  say new wireless technologies will let them serve more home-broadband subscribers without sending a technician to wire up a customer’s house. The companies have promised to build profitable services where other wireless broadband companies, like Clearwire, have failed to build a viable business, but they have yet to detail how many wireless homes they serve.

US Officials Target Chinese State-Owned Telecom Provider

Trump administration officials sought to revoke federal licenses used by China Telecom to do business in the US as part of a broader campaign to curb global Chinese technology interests on national security grounds. A collection of federal agencies led by the Department of Justice and including the departments of Defense and Homeland Security asked the Federal Communications Commission to permanently revoke licenses the Chinese internet service provider’s US subsidiary has used since 2007 to act as a “common carrier” connecting domestic and overseas networks.