Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wireless news: Google-Motorola to clear DOJ. Sprint & DirecTV protest Verizon AWS acquisition

Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice will approve Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility within the next few days. Meanwhile, on February 8, Google sent a letter to Gordon Day -  President of the IEEE, to
"...assure you and any potential licensees that, following Google's acquisition of MMI, Google will honor MMI's existing commitments to license the acquired MMI essential Patent Claims on RAND terms,.."(source: Foss Patents).
RAND here means Reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, according to the IEEE Standards Board Bylaws.

The IEEE Standard Bylaws define an "Essential Patent Claim" as
“Essential Patent Claim” shall mean any Patent Claim the use of which was necessary to create a compliant implementation of either mandatory or optional portions of the normative clauses of the [Proposed] IEEE Standard when, at the time of the [Proposed] IEEE Standard’s approval, there was no commercially and technically feasible non-infringing alternative. An Essential Patent Claim does not include any Patent Claim that was essential only for Enabling Technology or any claim other than that set forth above even if contained in the same patent as the Essential Patent Claim.
In the letter to the IEEE, Google goes on to say that
"pursuant to IEEE rules, MMI is prepared to grant licenses for Essential Patent Claims with a maximum per-unit royalty of 2.25%"
However, nowhere in the IEEE Bylaws do they specify licensing terms, stating only
  "If the IEEE receives notice that a [Proposed] IEEE Standard may require the use of a potential Essential Patent Claim, the IEEE shall request licensing assurance, on the IEEE Standards Board approved Letter of Assurance form, from the patent holder or patent applicant. The IEEE shall request this assurance without coercion."
 The Google letter could be misconstrued as implying that IEEE standards determine the 2.25% royalty terms.

Verizon acquisition of AWS licenses

WirelessWeek is reporting that DirectTV, T-Mobile USA and Sprint have petitioned the FCC to halt and reset the 180-day approval process for Verizon Wireless's proposed acquisition of 1222 AWS band licenses from SpectrumCo LLC. SpectrumCo is a joint venture between Comcast Corporation (63.6%), Time Warner Cable (31.2%), and Bright House Networks (5.3%). The petitioners are claiming that Verizon has not sufficiently disclosed details of their plan to have the parties to the acquisition to also partner to sell one another's products.

Through these agreements, the cable companies, on the one hand, and Verizon Wireless, on the other, will become agents to sell one another’s products and, over time, the cable companies will have the option of selling Verizon Wireless’ service on a wholesale basis.
Clearly, Sprint and T-Mobile are concerned for how the acquisition will strengthen their competition - Verizon, while DirectTV has similar concerns regarding the cable companies. Sprint's protest is particularly interesting, since (according to FCC documents) they were one of the original founders of SpectumCo:
SpectrumCo, the licensee of the AWS licenses to be assigned to Verizon Wireless in this transaction, was created in 2006 as a joint venture among subsidiaries of Comcast Corp. (“Comcast”), Time Warner Cable Inc. (“Time Warner Cable”), Cox Communications, Inc. (“Cox”), Bright House Networks, LLC (“Bright House”), and Sprint Nextel Corporation (“Sprint”). SpectrumCo was the successful bidder for 137 wireless spectrum licenses in the Commission’s AWS auction, which concluded in September 2006. In 2007, Sprint withdrew from SpectrumCo, and the SpectrumCo members purchased Sprint’s interests for an amount equal to Sprint’s capital contribution to the joint venture. In 2009, Cox also withdrew from SpectrumCo, taking with it the share of the AWS spectrum to which it was entitled under the SpectrumCo LLC agreement.
It is also ironic that DirecTV  just recently renewed their agreement with AT&T:
This agreement, which has been extended through March 2015, will enable both companies to provide millions of customers with access to an exclusive quadruple-play bundle of AT&T | DIRECTV service and AT&T broadband, home phone and wireless voice services, as well as bundled discounts when AT&T | DIRECTV service is combined with qualifying AT&T services.
 Meanwhile, Sprint is accelerating their switch from WiMAX to LTE, announcing that they are adding Baltimore and Kansas City to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio as the cities which will be first to receive the company's new 4G service, by mid-2012. 

Comscore reports on surge in tablet adoption
Comscore has just released its annual report on trends in social media, search, online video, digital advertising, mobile and e-commerce.  Comscore found that it has taken less than two years for purchases of tablets to reach nearly 40 million units. By comparison, Comscore reports that it took seven years to reach that level for smartphones. A summary slide presentation of the report is available from the Comscore website, and you can also view a video presentation embedded below.

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