Sunday, November 9, 2014

AT&T Bets on Mexico with Acquisition of Iusacell

AT&T agreed to acquire Iusacell, a leading Mexican mobile operator, from Grupo Salinas for US$2.5 billion, inclusive of Iusacell debt. The deal includes all of Iusacell’s wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 8.6 million subscribers. The acquisition will occur after Grupo Salinas, the current owner of 50 percent of Iusacell, closes its announced purchase of the other 50 percent of Iusacell that Grupo Salinas does not own today.

Iusacell offers wireless service under both the Iusacell and Unefón brand names with a network that today covers about 70 percent of Mexico’s approximately 120 million people. AT&T plans to expand Iusacell’s network to cover millions of additional consumers and businesses in Mexico.

Iusacell operates a 3G  GSM/UMTS network based on the same technology that AT&T uses in the United States. Iusacell owns between 20 and 25 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum, primarily in the southern half of the country, including Mexico City and Guadalajara, and an average of 39MHz of PCS spectrum nationwide. Iusacell’s Total Play business, including the network assets to support pay TV and wireline broadband services will be spun out to Grupo Salinas’ existing shareholders prior to AT&T closing its acquisition of Iusacell.

AT&T cited recent changes to government policies in Mexico that have created a friendly climate for foreign investment.  AT&T plans to create a North American Mobile Service area for U.S. customers calling or visiting Mexico, and Mexican customers calling or visiting the United States.

“Our acquisition of Iusacell is a direct result of the reforms put in place by President Peña Nieto to encourage more competition and more investment in Mexico. Those reforms together with the country’s strong economic outlook, growing population and growing middle class make Mexico an attractive place to invest,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Iusacell gives us a unique opportunity to create the first-ever North American Mobile Service area covering over 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States. It won’t matter which country you’re in or which country you’re calling – it will all be one network, one customer experience.

“Mexico is still in the early stages of mobile Internet capabilities and adoption, but customer demand for it is growing rapidly,” Stephenson said. “This is an opportunity for us to provide Iusacell the financial resources, scale and expertise to accelerate the roll-out of world-class mobile Internet speeds and quality in Mexico, like we have in the United States.”

Iusacell will continue to be headquartered in Mexico City following the transaction closing.

The transaction is subject to review by Mexico’s telecom regulator IFT (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones) and Mexico’s National Foreign Investments Commission.

In 2011, AT&T sold its 49% stake in Mexico's Alestra, giving ALFA 100% control of the firm. Financial terms were not disclosed. Alestra offers a range of business-class services, including converged communications, hosting and cloud capabilities. The company operates a 40 Gbps fiber network spanning 6,700 kms. across Mexico, including 1,750 kms of metro rings.

AT&T Says CAPEX for Project VIP has Peaked

AT&T confirmed that capital expenditures for its three year old Project VIP will have peaked in 2014. As a result, AT&T now expects its 2015 capital expenditure budget for its existing businesses to be in the $18 billion range, or "mid-teens" as a percentage of total revenues and consistent with historical capital spending levels.

Expansion of AT&T's 4G LTE network is largely complete as the network now covers more than 300 million people in the United States.

AT&T has also completed the build-out of wired high-speed Internet service to 57 million U.S. customer locations. Under the project, the company has deployed fiber connections to 600,000 of its planned 1 million multi-tenant U.S. business locations.

AT&T said it will continue to focus its capital investments on the most strategically important assets and opportunities, such as acquiring DIRECTV and Iusacell, while continuously reviewing and rationalizing its portfolio of less strategic assets.

As outlined in 2011, objectives of the three year Project VIP included:

Densification of the wireless grid through multiple technology deployments, including 10,000+ new macro sites, 1,000+ distributed antenna systems, and 40,000+ small cells.  Over half of the densification will come from small cells. 

Extending the wireline broadband network to 57 million homes.  

Extending fiber to many more business locations.  The target is for 1 million more customer locations in 3 years.

Cable & Wireless to Acquire the Columbus Undersea Cable Network

Cable & Wireless Communications Plc agreed to acquire Columbus International for approximately US$1.85 billion.  The deal creates a strengthen telecom player in Central America and the Caribbean.

CWC is a USD1.69bn revenue telecom services provider operating in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and the Seychelles. It serves 5.7m residential customers with a comprehensive suite of fixed telephony, high-speed broadband, television and mobile services.

Columbus is a privately-owned diversified telecommunications and technology services company, based in Barbados, with approximately 700,000 residential customers in the Caribbean, Central America and the Andean region. In the Caribbean, it is one of the leading providers of triple-play cable TV and broadband enabled services over its proprietary fibre optic network infrastructure.

CWC said the merger positions it for regional convergence leadership. CWC is rolling out high-speed broadband in Jamaica, Cayman, Barbados, Anguilla, Antigua, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent, St Lucia and Grenada. The enlarged group will benefit from Columbus’ high-speed fibre optic and hybrid fibre-coax n Curacao and Trinidad, as well as broadening network reach in markets where both CWC and Columbus operate today such as Jamaica, Barbados and Grenada.

DOCOMO and NEC Test VxLAN Offloadingfor OpenStack Neutron

NTT DOCOMO and NEC Corp. claim up to six times faster data transmission between multiple virtual machines by utilizing network interface cards (NICs) with Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN) offloading.

The companies have completed a proof-of-concept that verified that a cloud system configured with open-source OpenStack Neutron, the cloud networking controller within the promising cloud management software OpenStack, is capable of up to 16 Gbps data transmission between virtual machines on two different physical hosts.

DOCOMO and NEC developed high availability (HA) capability for OpenStack Neutron's network controlling process. The HA is achieved by enabling multiple networking controllers to instantly take over a failed network controller. The combination of this HA and the huge increase in data transmission speed verified by the trials now qualifies OpenStack Neutron for commercial use. DOCOMO expects to introduce OpenStack Neutron on a commercial basis to provide faster and more stable cloud services within the fiscal year ending in March 2016.

The trials, the largest scale ever involving OpenStack Neutron, were conducted in cooperation with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, VirtualTech Japan Inc., NTT Advanced Technology Corporation, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Tokyo University and Dell Japan Inc.

Mesh Networks Raises $4.3 Million for Bandwidth Mgt

Mesh Networks, which specializes in bandwidth management and optimization, has secured $4.3 million a new round funding from an existing investor base and new private investors. 

Mesh Networks bandwidth management solutions are scheduled to be installed into both new and retro-fit mission critical IT infrastructures in verticals that service student housing in the USA and Canada and assisted living facilities throughout the USA and Australia. Hospitality media network providers are expected to integrate the NetProfit System to effectively manage bandwidth in their existing highly specialized content delivery systems across guest platforms and provide their customers enhanced Quality of Service (QoS) when using Internet related services.

"Connectivity services in the Hospitality, Student Housing, 55+/Assisted Living, Apartment industries are notorious for being troublesome and slow; often frustrating a customer base that expects connectivity services to be fast and responsive. Mesh facilitates personalizing and improving guest/resident connectivity services by installing our patent pending bandwidth management systems into new, or already existing networks." Said Martin Scheid, CEO and President of Mesh Networks, LLC. "Achieving our funding goals for 2014 has significantly accelerated the advancement of the Company. Subsequently, we are anticipating a rapid expansion into our target verticals, with deployments already scheduled well into 2016."

The company is based in Houston, Texas.