The Telecom Mergers, or Attempted Mergers, Continue

Carl Weinschenk

Until about a month ago, the focus was on the acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast. That deal faced stiff opposition from the government, and fell apart. This week, however, a couple of deals were made that suggest the consolidation is not over.

Time Warner Cable was in the middle of one of them; it has agreed to be acquired by Charter Communications. Bright House Networks also will move to Charter in a separate but related deal. In another major deal, albeit one with lower profile names, semiconductor company Avago has agreed to acquire Broadcom.

Here are highlights of other news analysis this week:

Avago Buying Broadcom

Semiconductor Avago Technologies has agreed to buy Broadcom for $37 billion in cash and stocks, according to The New York Times and many other sites.

The chip race is a wild one, as companies map strategies for a variety of emerging services, most notably including the Internet of Things (IoT). The reports say that there has been a wave of consolidation in the chip sector. The deal appears to make sense:

The companies have little overlap but could combine to offer a range of products to communications companies while gaining greater negotiating power with manufacturers. The combined company would have annual revenue of about $15 billion.

Broadcom’s chips are used in smartphones, modems and set-top boxes. Avago initially was part of Agilent Technologies, which itself was part of Hewlett-Packard. Avago became private in 2009 and bought LSI Corp. in 2013 and networking equipment and services company Emulex earlier this year.

Charter’s Turn on Time Warner Cable

Weeks after Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable fell apart, Charter Communications agreed to acquire the multiple system operator (MSO). The deal, for $55 billion, would combine the second and fourth largest U.S. operators. Charter also agreed to acquire Bright House Communications which, according to The Washington Post, will be combined with the two bigger companies.

Overall, the new entity would serve 23.9 million households with cable television, phone and Internet access. It would have a presence in 41 states and many big cities, including New York, Dallas and Los Angeles. Close regulatory scrutiny is expected.

Want to Survive the IoT Onslaught? Focus on Wi-Fi

Executive Chairman & Founder at Xirrus, Dirk Gates, writes at Network World that the most important preparatory step to supporting the IoT is to focus on the Wi-Fi network.

A couple of steps should be taken. The first is to move to the 5 GHz band:

With faster speeds, an increase in channels, greater capacity and far less interference, WiFi in 5GHz will provide your users with a superior experience compared to the crowded 2.4GHz spectrum. What's more, adopting application visibility and control for your wireless system will ensure that business-critical apps get priority over social media, games, streaming video and other recreational traffic common to smartphones.

Three other tips: Create smart policies, build in strong authentication, and limit the number of IoT devices per access point, according to Gates.

FCC to Move on Lifeline Broadband

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed in a blog post this week to update the Lifeline program, which was created in 1985, to help enable lower income Americans to get broadband.

Wheeler’s post lays out the need for broadband: Most job openings are advertised, applied for and, to some extent, performed online. At the same time, more than 95 percent of homes with incomes of more than $150,000 have broadband; only 48 percent of those with incomes of $25,000 have such services. Overall, almost 30 percent of households don’t have broadband.

To address this situation, Wheeler wrote that the FCC is circulating proposals that include minimum standards for voice and broadband and is seeking comment on ways to bring more providers into the program, increase competition, consumer choice on price and service offerings, according to the blog.

Android Auto Is Here

And, finally, comes a story about another step in the road to comprehensive connectivity. Ars Technica reports that Google, which announced Android Auto last year, finally can say that it can pick somebody up in a car using it. The site reports that the 2015 Hyundai Sonata offers the service.

It looks, according to the site, like Apple CarPlay. A smartphone – running Android, obviously – sends a customized interface to the touchscreen on the dashboard. The service is based on the user’s smartphone, which facilitates upgrades. Services available are Google Maps, Google Now, Google voice search, text by voice, and a variety of messaging apps and music.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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