Drew FitzGerald

Once-Worthless Radio Waves Get New Life in Spectrum Auction

Cellphone carriers often call their most valuable radio-wave licenses “beachfront” property. As with real estate, it pays to be in a prime location. Government officials will test that thinking this month by selling some once-barren tracts of that virtual real estate in the upper reaches of the wireless spectrum. How much companies are willing to pay for them remains to be seen. The Federal Communications Commission began the first of two auctions for extremely high-frequency spectrum licenses, raising cash from a type of radio wave once considered useless for wireless service.

Across the US, 5G Runs Into Local Resistance

Millions of Americans will soon encounter new poles or notice antennas sprouting on existing structures, like utility poles, street lamps and traffic lights, all over their neighborhoods. All four national cellphone companies are pushing to build out their networks with a profusion of small, local cells to keep their data-hungry customers satisfied and lay the groundwork for fifth-generation, or 5G, service. Those plans face pushback in many places, and not just from residents.

Few Rivals Speak Out Against Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

If America’s tech and telecom giants have an opinion about T-Mobile US’s plan to reshape the wireless industry by taking over Sprint , most are keeping it to themselves.Few large companies have gone on record to back or oppose the roughly $26 billion merger, which would combine the country’s No. 3 and No. 4 carriers. Fewer still are using their lobbying prowess to fight the deal behind the scenes. “I don’t think you’re going to have any entity that has motive and means to oppose this deal” among big business, said Blair Levin, an industry analyst at New Street Research.

House Democrats Seek New Probe of Sinclair

Reps Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether Sinclair Broadcast Group broke laws by allegedly influencing ad sales at rival Tribune Media, another potential setback in the TV station owners’ effort to merge.

Telecom Companies Are Running Out of Time to Make Deals

A looming Federal Communications Commission deadline could spur telecom companies to hurry up deal talks before restrictions on their discussions tie their hands. The FCC said in a public notice that it would stop accepting applications on Sept. 18 for two planned wireless-airwave auctions in 2018. Rules bar applicants from talking with each other from that date until the second auction ends and its winners make their down payments.

Justice Department Investigates TV Station Owners Over Advertising Sales

Apparently, the Justice Department is investigating whether television station owners violated antitrust law in ways that inflated local television advertising prices. The probe has examined whether Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media Co,  and other independent TV station owners coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials. Companies like Sinclair and Tribune own dozens of local TV stations that carry programming from national broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

How Wireless Carriers Get Permission to Share Your Whereabouts

Cellphone carriers usually ask for their customers’ blessing before listing their phone numbers, sharing their addresses or exposing them to promotional emails. But seeking permission to share one particularly sensitive piece of information—a cellphone’s current location—often falls to one of several dozen third-party companies like Securus Inc. and 3Cinteractive Corp. Carriers rely on those firms to vouch that they obtained users’ consent before handing over the data.

How Phone Companies Share Your Data

Carriers get requests for their customers’ whereabouts from all sorts of places. How they handle them depends on who is asking. 1) Each carrier has a dedicated legal team that evaluates the requests of law-enforcement officers. 2) Emergency calls are routed to public-safety answering points, which can obtain the caller’s location without affirmative consent. 3) Middlemen like LocationSmart and Zumigo can access information on cellphone users’ whereabouts in situations where the company seeking the information might not know which carrier to ask.

Sprint, T-Mobile Vow Merger Won’t Repeat Nextel Havoc

Sprint’s plan to merge with rival T-Mobile in a $26 billion deal has triggered memories of dead phones and spotty service for some longtime Sprint customers, but the companies say such pitfalls are in the past. The customers are recalling the havoc of Sprint’s 2005 merger with Nextel Communications, much of it driven by the companies’ differing technologies. It took nearly eight years and billions of dollars to wind down Nextel’s so-called iDEN system—known for its chirpy push-to-talk cellphones—before all customers were taking calls on Sprint’s network.

AT&T made consulting payments to Michael Cohen’s company in 2017

AT&T said it made payments to Essential Consultants LLC, a company created by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, in 2017 for “insights” into the Administration at a time when the telecommunications giant needed government approval for an $85 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc. Cohen used Essential Consultants LLC in October 2016 to make a $130,000 payment to former adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, who had alleged she had a sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006. AT&T made four payments to Cohen’s firm totaling