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Telecom Daily

Welcome to Faulkner's Telecom Daily. We publish Monday through Friday, updating top stories as events warrant. If you would like to receive Telecom Daily emailed daily to your desktop, please click here: TelDailyEmail.

Thursday, May 25...

T-Mobile's DIGITS Service Goes Live on May 31 for All Customers
T-Mobile announced that its DIGITS service will launch to all eligible customers on May 31, 2017. The new offering from the carrier essentially separates a mobile device from its connected phone number, allowing to two to work independently. This means that multiple phone numbers can be operated from a single device, while any of the user's DIGITS number can also be accessed from other mobile devices, or from a PC via the DIGITS Web app. With the new service all calls and texts to and from any of a given user's DIGITS numbers can now reach them or be sent via an integrated interface on supported Samsung models, the new iOS or Android DIGITS app, or via the DIGITS Web app. Customers on any of T-Mobile's plans will be able to add another phone number for $10 per month, while using autopay. Meanwhile, subscribers to its T-Mobile ONE plans will, for a limited time, receive on extra DIGITS phone line for free. T-Mobile found during its extensive beta testing for DIGITS that the most popular usage of the feature was using their DIGITS phone number from a secondary smartphone or tablet, with 96 percent taking advantage of the option. 41 percent also made a call or sent a text from a PC.

Sprint's CEO Speculates on Possible Merger at JP Morgan Conference
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure once again sparked merger rumors about the company when he spoke at a JP Morgan investor event this week. The executive noted that his company is thankful for the support of its parent corporation, Softbank, but went on to extol the virtues and opportunities a merger with another major player in the telecom industry could provide. Although Claure never specifically mentioned T-Mobile, he strongly hinted at it as a possible suitor, using scenarios like the possible combination of "two mavericks" to create a "company almost the size of AT&T and Verizon." However, the CEO also opened the door to a more recently developing rumor of a possible merger between Sprint and one or more cable companies, saying "I think a lot of people donít understand, but when you look at your business combined with one, or two, or three cable companies--as they seem to get together to do things--the synergies are enormous." These statements combined with recent comments from T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter and the much looser regulatory environment these companies now find themselves in mean another telecom mega-merger may be on the horizon. A full audio version of Claure's speech can be found on Sprint's Investor Relations Web page.

FCC Petitioned by Both Sides of New Fight Over "Ringless Voicemail" Robocalls
A new issue is brewing at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over "ringless voicemail" robocalls. This particular form of the roundly-hated advertising calls do not actually cause the user's phone to ring, but simply appear within their voicemail inbox. According to a report from Recode and a publication from the Republican National Committee (RNC), Republican lawmakers are asking the FCC to freely allow such voicemail messages by providing them with an exemption from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that currently regulates normal robocalls and the national Do Not Call List. The Republicans contend that the messages are not actual calls, and therefore do not fall under the purview of the TCPA. It further believes that restricting such messages would unduly burden the state of political discourse by hindering first amendment rights. Meanwhile, a letter of opposition to the Republicans' stance was filed by the National Consumer Law Center. It includes statements from 15 other consumer protection and civil rights organizations, all staunchly opposing the new calls. The letter contests that the new messages are "just as invasive, expensive and annoying" as their prohibited counterparts. The FCC had yet to weigh in on the issue at the time of writing.

... Michael Gariffo, Faulkner Information Services

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