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This week in telecom news, AT&T is trying to distance itself -- in a good way -- from the highly criticized Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger by promoting the benefits of a DirecTV merger. Meanwhile, Google filed applications with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct tests across wireless spectrum, fueling rumors of a new Wi-Fi service.
Mitel Networks is pushing to acquire ShoreTel in an effort to expand its reach in the U.S. and look to the future of the telecom equipment industry.
AT&T trumpets DirecTV merger benefits
AT&T is positioning its bid to acquire DirecTV as different from other major media mergers by promoting the consumer benefits in its latest filing with the FCC.
In its 82-page filing, AT&T said its proposed $48.5 billion merger with DirecTV will lead to lower television bills for customers and more competition, which it says "sets this transaction apart."
"To begin with, unlike the Comcast/Time Warner Cable transaction, this merger does not add existing broadband assets to AT&T's broadband network, and thus does not increase AT&T's market presence in broadband," AT&T said in the filing.
Comcast's bid to buy Time Warner has come under scrutiny because both companies offer the same services in different areas of the U.S., leading to concerns that an approved merger would mean less competition. AT&T offers telephone and Internet service with limited television offerings, while DirecTV offers satellite television services and relies on partnerships for phone and Internet bundles.
AT&T has said that the merger with DirecTV will allow the providers to offer cable, television and Internet bundles, especially in rural areas of the country.
AT&T announced its bid for DirecTV in May. The acquisition is expected to be reviewed by the FCC early in 2015.
Google to test potential fiber Wi-Fi service
Google has asked the FCC for permission to conduct tests across wireless spectrum, fueling rumors of a potential fiber Wi-Fi service.
It is unclear what Google's plans are, as the public filings are heavily redacted. Google said in one of the FCC filings that the purpose of the tests is to enable the company to "expeditiously test radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion or utilization of the radio art."
Experts speculate the technology being tested could be the basis for Wi-Fi services that could replace ground cable or fiber Internet, according to Reuters.
Google said the tests on 3.5 GHz band will take place on three stations in Arlington, Va.; Reston, Va.; and Mountain View, Calif. for a 24-month period. Each station will be equipped with a low-power signal generator connected to an amplifier and antenna. The data obtained during the tests will be used to "demonstrate the service range of small-cell networks in this band and will help validate propagation models used to protect incumbent operations."
The second test will use point-to-point communications between three sites in California's San Francisco Bay Area over a period of six months. The tests will use three types of radios to transmit 5.8 GHz, 24.2 GHz and millimeter wave band signals between the locations.
Mitel makes bid to acquire ShoreTel
Mitel Networks has made a $540 million offer to acquire ShoreTel, as the Canadian telecom provider looks to expand its U.S. presence.
Mitel CEO Richard McBee said in a press release that the acquisition would bring together two companies "with strong and complementary market footprints, particularly in the U.S. where ShoreTel does more than 90% of its business."
McBee believes that the telecom equipment industry is rapidly consolidating and Mitel should be on the forefront, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Mitel recently acquired the Toronto-based vendor Aastra Technologies as part of its consolidation vision.
Mitel may also be making the bid for ShoreTel as providers transition from hardware to cloud-based telecom services. The Ottawa Citizen reported that while ShoreTel's overall revenue is lower than Mitel's, a larger portion of its revenue comes from cloud-based services.
Mitel had made a private offer on ShoreTel earlier this month, which ShoreTel rejected. McBee said the current offer would remain on the table until Nov. 20.