In this overview of 2014, we have focused on five key trends: fixed-mobile convergence and quad-play; mergers and acquisitions; "5G;" connected cars; and the resurgence of European device manufacturers. The reasons for focusing on these five areas and the news that shaped them are probably obvious to anyone who has been following the industry closely this year.
The FCC did not conclude that the U.S. wireless industry is "effectively competitive" and in a new report declared that the market remains highly concentrated among the four Tier 1 carriers. In its 17th "Mobile Wireless Competition Report," the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau notes that consolidation is continuing.
BT has entered into exclusive negotiations with Orange and Deutsche Telekom regarding the sale of EE, ending weeks of speculation over whether the former UK incumbent would choose to buy, EE or its rival O2 UK. The purchase price of £12.5 billion (€15.7 billion/$19.6 billion) would be split equally between Orange and Deutsche Telekom.
Sprint parent SoftBank plans to clear out most of the staff of its Silicon Valley offices, according to a Reuters report, following SoftBank's aborted effort to merge Sprint with T-Mobile US.
Sprint wholesale partner nTelos Wireless is likely going to benefit financially from exiting some of its markets, but its earnings will remain under pressure, according to financial analysts. The company could benefit from selling some its towers or excess spectrum, they added, but it's unclear when that will occur.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said even if a Chinese smartphone maker offered to buy the company, Western governments likely wouldn't allow it because of BlackBerry's deployment of mobile security software for those governments.
Alaska Communications and General Communication, Inc. (GCI) inked a deal in which GCI will pay $300 million for Alaska Communications' wireless assets and subscriber base and its 33 percent stake their network venture, the Alaska Wireless Network.
Sprint wholesale partner nTelos Wireless said it is selling off spectrum and its retail business in markets in eastern Virginia to focus on markets in western Virginia and West Virginia where it has a stronger retail presence and benefits from a network deal with Sprint. As part of the shift in priorities, nTelos is selling 1900 MHz PCS spectrum in its so-called "Eastern Markets" to T-Mobile US for $56 million.
Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is launching free international calling as part of its service, even to customers who do not have FreedomPop as their primary carrier. The company's salvo is aimed not just at traditional wireless carriers but also VoIP providers like Skype and Vonage that have made international calling their hallmarks. FreedomPop also announced new plans for its expansion into Europe.
AT&T's decision to buy No. 3 Mexican wireless carrier Iusacell for $2.5 billion is likely a precursor to a larger move by AT&T into the Latin America market, potentially via a deal for some of América Móvil's assets or a push into Brazil, according to financial analysts. The deal could also possibly make it more likely that América Móvil will look to make a deal with T-Mobile US, though América Móvil has said it is not in talks with T-Mobile.