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DirecTV Now on target to become AT&T's main video platform

AT&T plans to test wireless broadband traveling near power lines; AT&T pushes its online-streaming platform, DirecTV Now; and Yahoo and Verizon weigh the effects of the largest recorded company hack on its deal.

What's new in telecom? AT&T plans to use power lines and plastic antennas to deliver wireless broadband with its new AirGig technology, and it looks to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime with its DirecTV Now online-streaming platform. Meanwhile, Yahoo and Verizon are dealing with hacking issues.

Wireless broadband built on power lines and plastic antennas

AT&T recently announced it plans to start testing AirGig next year. Its latest technology will deliver high-speed wireless broadband using power lines. Not yet a reality, however, AirGig is designed to attach plastic antennas to medium-voltage power lines, which would then receive millimeter radio signals and send out wireless signals for the broadband connection, AT&T said. The broadband signals are designed to travel around or near the path of the power lines, not over them. 

AT&T said it hopes the AirGig approach will be low-cost and easy to deploy. Since the plan uses power lines that are already in place, AT&T won't have to build new cell towers, which will reduce cost and time to market. Since power lines are available almost everywhere, AT&T could potentially provide internet services in rural areas that lack broadband connections and deliver cheaper services in cities or suburbs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

AT&T's AirGig technology would require making deals with local utility companies in order to use the lines. Utility companies could benefit by being able to add intelligence to their power grids using the wireless technology to locate problems along the power lines, according to Recode.

AT&T has tested AirGig in its outdoor facilities, but is looking for other locations to conduct field trials. The technology will not be commercially available for a few years.

AT&T and Comcast expand services

AT&T's online-streaming TV service, DirecTV Now, is set to become AT&T's main video platform in three to five years, replacing its current satellite service. AT&T acquired satellite-TV service DirecTV in 2015. AT&T plans for DirecTV Now to be its primary video-streaming platform, streaming multiple live feeds to one or two devices, Bloomberg Technology reported.

With DirecTV Now, AT&T will target households and users on a budget, or without cable or satellite services. AT&T wireless subscribers will initially receive free access to DirecTV Now, according to Bloomberg. This service will enable AT&T to compete with online-streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

AT&T signed a long-term, multiplatform deal with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. that increases the number of channels AT&T's various video platforms offer, Multichannel News wrote. With the inclusion of Scripps channels, such as Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel, DirecTV Now will include about 100 channels.

While AT&T seeks to expand its services with on-demand streaming, Comcast plans to extend its service offerings with mobile phone service by reselling Verizon Wireless services. Already a prominent wireless broadband provider with 14 million Wi-Fi hotspots, Comcast plans to launch its cellular services in 2017, marketing the service first to its existing cable customers, according to a report by The Verge.

Yahoo hack could compromise Yahoo and Verizon deal

Yahoo recently confirmed a 2014 hack that compromised the personal information of at least 500 million users, according to The Washington Post. This news could compromise Verizon's $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo that was announced in late July 2016.

Yahoo began investigating in July after receiving reports about a hacker who claimed stealing and selling millions of Yahoo users' information. The company confirmed a state-sponsored breach of information, resulting in the largest recorded company hack, according to The New York Times. With the hack confirmed, the timing of the Yahoo and Verizon deal in correlation with Yahoo's knowledge of the hack comes into question, as Quartz wrote. Verizon could choose to opt out of the deal, citing that Yahoo withheld information, or it could leverage this information to negotiate a lower price of the acquisition.

Next Steps

Verizon's deal with Yahoo a move toward digital content

AT&T acquires DirecTV

AT&T seeks 5G collaborators

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