A Foolish Week of Telecom

Pay the man, Ma
It's going to cost AT&T $215 million to settle patent litigation with TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) . Apparently, AT&T-Rex ignored TiVo's intellectual-property rights regarding the carrier's DVR receivers. In May, TiVo scored big from settlements with EchoStar and DISH Network to the tune of $500 million. It's still not clear what the disposition is with TiVo's complaint it filed against Verizon for patent infringement in 2009.

AT&T's 4G footprint swells
The carrier announced yesterday that the number of markets it can serve with its LTE market has increased by 11. AT&T now blankets 26 markets with its highest-speed mobile network. It still has a long way to go, though, to catch up to Verizon's 179 LTE markets. But that might not be much of a disadvantage if Verizon keeps accruing LTE outages. It had three last month alone.

More LTE news
Sprint Nextel
(NYSE: S  ) CEO Dan Hesse announced today that the first markets to get its LTE coverage will be Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and San Antonio. It will happen in the first half of this year, according to the company's press release.

There was no mention of what company will be providing that LTE network. With LightSquared missing the Dec. 31 date by which it was required to get its LTE network approved by the Federal Communications Commission, Sprint will now probably lean on ClearWire (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) to do the heavy lifting there.

Perchance to dream ... no more?
Apparently, C Spire has given up on its LTE dreams, at least for now. It had wanted to launch the 4G network by the end of 2011, but when FierceWireless asked about the status of that project, a company spokesman tersely said: "We did not launch 4G LTE at the end of 2011. We have no further comment beyond that."

If at first you don't succeed ...
MetroPCS
(NYSE: PCS  ) is going to attempt to revive mobile digital TV in the States. The regional wireless carrier will start offering customers an Android LTE smartphone from Samsung that will include a mobile DTV tuner. The advantages of such a service? For one, it won't need a cellular phone network but will get its signal from the broadcast TV frequencies. For another, well ... um ... I guess there's only one. Please, let me know if you can think of more.

Making its move
U.S. Cellular is committed to serving 24 markets with LTE coverage by the end of the first quarter, according to Ted Carlson, the CEO of Cellular's parent company, Telephone & Data Systems. A full LTE buildout, he said, will take three years. The carrier also said it plans to offer five to seven LTE mobile devices.

Be careful what you wish for
Verizon reported a disheartening phenomenon this week. Even though it sold a record 4.2 million iPhones during the third quarter, more than double what it sold during the previous quarter, its profit margins took a 5% hit. Apparently, the iPhone price has to be subsidized to such a degree by the carriers, that they get squeezed on each one they sell to a subscriber with a two-year contract. Yes, AT&T gets hit the same way.

Oink, oink
Turns out Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) newest iPhone is quite the data hog. A study released by Arieso claims that the iPhone 4S is the greatest downlinking glutton it could find from its sample of 1 million subscribers in a European market. The biggest uplinking pig is an HTC Desire S, but the 4S is right on its curly little tail.

iKa-Ching
Apple is ready to start rolling in even more dough when it releases the iPhone 4S in China on Jan. 13. CEO Tim Cook said in Apple's fourth-quarter conference call that China is "growing at a feverish pace" and that it is the company's No. 2 revenue-producing country. "In China, the sky is the limit there," he said.

What smells in here?
If you're an Internet subscriber in Taipei, you may be able to say without hyperbole that your ISP really stinks. The city government has decided the fastest way to bring fiber service to a majority of the city's homes by 2015 is to use the city sewer system as a cable conduit. Ed Norton, IT repairman?

The telecom industry would be nothing without the gadgets to run on them. And those gadgets would be nothing without the chips inside that make them work. Learn about some of the top companies that produce those all-important components by reading this special free Fool report.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of AT&T. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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