A Foolish Week of Telecom

Research In Motion is dead.

Henceforth the company will be known as... maybe it's best to let the company's CEO, Thorsten Heins lay it out: "From this point forward -- we are BlackBerry. One brand. One promise. Our customers use a BlackBerry, our employees work for BlackBerry, and our shareholders are owners of BlackBerry."

BlackBerry released its long-awaited new operating system this week, BlackBerry 10. The company also introduced its two latest smartphones, which will be powered by BB 10. The Z10 model will sport what has become ubiquitous among smartphones these days: a touchscreen. However, the company has not forsaken its longtime BlackBerry devotees. Its Q10 handset will retain what many CrackBerry addicts still want -- a physical keyboard.


The DISH factor
Count on DISH Network to keep things off balance. Last month it filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission for more time in which to come up with reasons why the FCC should deny Sprint Nextel's selling 70% of itself to Japanese mobile operator SoftBank.

Among other reasons cited for denying the deal, DISH played this foreign investment card: "Is it in the public interest for a foreign company to control more spectrum below 3 GHz than any one other company in the United States?"

But earlier this week, DISH notified the FCC in a letter that it decided not to file a petition to deny approval of the deal. The reason? "... among other things ... the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Clearwire and DISH's continued negotiations with the Special Committee of Clearwire's Board of Directors to acquire the company or certain assets of the company," DISH wrote.

It should be noted that DISH and Sprint have both made offers to buy Clearwire.

DISH's change of heart may have to do with the Department of Justice stepping in to do the heavy lifting in possibly undermining the SoftBank/Sprint deal.

The DOJ also wrote to the FCC this week, asking it to "defer action" on a SoftBank/Sprint decision until it, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security can review the agreement for "any national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues."

A dividend favorite gets a downgrade
Frontier Communications was the unfortunate recipient of a Standard & Poor's downgrade this week. The credit ratings agency dropped it one notch further into junk territory -- from BB to BB-, three steps below investment grade.

S&P said it changed its assessment of Frontier's risk profile from "significant" to "aggressive" because the company's prospects are constrained by tough competition with other wireline telecoms and with consumers trending toward wireless.

Share and share alikeThree wireless rivals have signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to find ways of sharing a range of wireless frequencies that are currently used by the Pentagon and other government agencies.

AT&T , Verizon , and T-Mobile USA announced their partnership just as the FCC has been trying to get the private sector and the government to share the airwaves as smartphone and tablet data demands rise rapidly.

What's up with Korea?
Meanwhile, on the warmer side of the 38th parallel, there are some (lowercase) foolish things going on in South Korea's telecom and electronics worlds.

First of all, the chairman of SK Telecom, Chey Tae-won, has been sentenced to four years in jail for stealing $46 million from his company.

That's the second time Chey has been convicted of financial wrongdoing. In 2003, the courts gave him a three-year suspended sentence for accounting fraud.

But investors shouldn't worry about SK Telecom, according to Fitch Ratings. Even if Chey does do the time, Fitch does not think there will be any major changes to the way the company is run. The Chey family will still have control of the voting rights at all board and shareholder meetings.

And when Chey does get out of the slammer, there is no law barring a person convicted of financial shenanigans from going back to the same company.

Seriously, what's up?
The richest man in South Korea, according to Forbes Rich List, just won a $4 billion lawsuit filed against him by his own family.

Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung, escaped having to hand over to relatives a larger stake in the giant electronics company. The family members said Lee deliberately hid shares in holding companies the Samsung conglomerate owns.

Lee, whose 21% stake in Samsung makes him the largest single shareholder, was accused of tax evasion in 2008 and forced to resign. He returned two years later after a presidential pardon.

Save money, buy an iPhone?
Conventional thinking might make one conclude that to save money on a smartphone, a consumer should buy an Android phone over an iPhone.

True, consumers can pay less up front for many phones running Google's mobile OS, but there may be a hidden cost in that decision.

Suite 48 Analytics has found that Apple is selling a majority of its top-ranked photo and video apps through its iTune store for only $0.99, the minimum price. On the other hand, only 34% of the Android apps are priced that low.

What's that mean?

"The photo app market is more competitive and more mature on iPhone than on Android," says Suite 48 Analytics' president, Hans Hartman. However, many of the app companies make up the difference by selling extra features directly from inside the app.

That S&P downgrade of Frontier is a disappointment for many income investors. When it comes to dividend yields, you won't find many higher than Frontier Communications. While its juicy dividend is tempting, every Frontier investor has to understand that it's not a sure thing. A huge acquisition has transformed the company forever. Will the move bear fruit, or are investors destined for another disappointing dividend cut? In this premium research report on Frontier Communications, we walk you through all of the key opportunities and threats facing the company. Better yet, you'll receive a full year of updates to boot. Click here to learn more.

The article A Foolish Week of Telecom originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of AT&T and Frontier Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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