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A Foolish Week of Telecom

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As rumored earlier in the week, Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) finally got part of the approval it needed for its blockbuster cable deal. The Justice Department gave its thumbs up, but not without certain caveats pertaining to the cross-marketing tenets of the agreement. The concessions that Verizon agreed to would limit the time frame and the scope of the joint marketing schemes it made with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks.

While the i's may have been dotted on this deal by the DOJ, the t's have yet to be crossed. That remains to be done by the Federal Communications Commission, at a time not yet determined. But it’s probably a good bet that the ink will eventually dry on the FCC’s approval, because  FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has already publicly given the nod to the deal. There are four more FCC commissioners, however, and, well, you know, between cup and lip …

An alternative to XFINITY and FiOS?
Meanwhile, as Comcast’s and Verizon’s control over cable-delivered broadband Internet seems to get tighter, DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH  ) is readying a national satellite-delivered broadband Internet service. DISH’s spin-off unit, EchoStar, last month launched a new satellite capable of 15 megabits per second download speeds.

This service can only handle up to 2 million people at present, and still be able to offer that speed. Right now, the service is meant for those in rural areas who cannot get broadband Internet by other means, but more satellites in the future could quite possibly make this a viable alternative to the hard-wired broadband Internet service offered by the earthbound telecoms.

Will the sun ever rise in Finland again?
(NYSE: NOK  ) has received yet another credit rating downgrade from Standard & Poor’s, this one from BB+ to BB-. This is the second S&P hit that Nokia has received since April, and the phone maker’s credit is now in the "junk" bin of the three major credit ratings agencies. And there could be more to come. "The negative outlook reflects the possibility of another downgrade if Nokia fails to stabilize its margins and significantly cut its cash losses," S&P said.

But Nokia is not ready to throw in the towel on its Windows Phone partnership with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) . Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, made it quite clear to a group of reporters in Oslo this week that the company had no intention of switching smartphone operating systems. According to Elop:

I don’t think about rewinding the clock and thinking about competing elsewhere. … In today’s war [between] Android, Apple, and Windows, we are very clear. We are fighting that with the Windows Phone.

With those words still echoing, Microsoft and Nokia are planning a joint media event in New York City on September 5. The expectation is, that will be the venue at which Nokia will introduce its first Windows Phone 8 handset.

Samsung rests its case against you-know-who
Samsung finally put its last witness on the stand in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . Samsung’s witnesses testified that Apple would owe the Korean company as much as $421.8 million in royalties. Apple lawyers, however, in cross-examination, were able to raise some doubts about how such a figure could have been computed.

Rebuttal witnesses are now testifying, and Judge Lucy Koh said she wanted to start jury deliberations by August 21. The judge also said she remains "pathologically optimistic" that a settlement can be reached. I’m not quite sure what she means by that, though.

Bad news for scofflaws
Ba-Dummmm …

The police do not need to obtain a warrant to follow a suspect using cell phone tracking data, according to a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. This 2-to-1 decision was made in a case against a drug trafficker, who appealed his conviction by arguing that the government obtained his location from his cell phone’s GPS information, and that, therefore, his arrest was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Judge John Rogers, writing for the majority:

There is no Fourth Amendment violation because Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off by his voluntarily procured-pay-as-you-go cell phone. If a tool used to transport contraband gives off a signal that can be tracked for location, certainly the police can track the signal.

Let that be a lesson to you.

Apple, meanwhile, is expected to announce its latest iPhone on Sept. 12. As the company that basically wrote the smartphone OS rulebook, its iPhone is still the device that all other phones aspire to be like. To get the full scoop on one of the preeminent names in technology today, grab your copy of the Fool's new premium report on Apple. It comes with a full year of updates, as well as an overview of the must-know opportunities and threats for every Apple investor. Click here to claim your copy.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of Nokia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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