AT&T to pay $780 million for rural wireless assets


AT&T will pay $780 million in cash to acquire Atlantic Tele-Network Inc's U.S. retail wireless operations operating under the Alltel brand, AT&T said on Tuesday, announcing a move aimed at boosting its service in rural areas.

Atlantic Tele-Network (Beverly, USA) shares rose 11 percent after the news was announced on Tuesday.

The Alltel brand serves about 585,000 customers in mostly rural areas in the states of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio. AT&T said the spectrum it is buying is complementary to its current network.

Verizon posts weak fourth-quarter, promises a better 2013


Verizon Communications Inc posted a weaker-than-expected wireless operating profit margin due to hefty costs from smartphones like Apple's iPhone, but the U.S. telephone company promised a big improvement this year as it cuts costs.

While Verizon's fourth-quarter bottom line was weaker than anticipated, investors were encouraged when Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said on Tuesday that the company could be in a position to buy back shares sooner than expected and that wireless margins could rise this year to as high as 50 percent.

Itron smart-grid tech to be used in National Grid pilot

Itron’s smart-grid technology is to be used by National Grid in the rollout of 10,000 smart meters in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The announcement of the deal between the smart-grid specialist and the utility provider follows the successful completion of a so-called ‘early field trial’ (EFT) involving the deployment of 5,000 meters in Worcester from February 2012.

According to Itron (Liberty Lake, USA), National Grid (New York, USA) will begin to roll out the 10,000 meters – in what it calls a “full pilot” – early in 2013.

Atmel and Wasion partner on smart-meter development

Atmel and Wasion Group are to collaborate on the development of smart-grid technology in response to rapid adoption in China and growing interest in other parts of the world.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding they hope will drive the adoption of standards-compliant smart-metering solutions in global markets, based on power line communication (PLC) solutions developed by Atmel (San Jose, USA).

Retailers taking tech battle for shoppers to next level


The store of the future has arrived and it is threatening to leave technology laggards behind.

The modern store is equipped with cameras that look at you, guess your tastes based on your gender, age and behavior, and send deals to your smart phone accordingly.

It also has the technology to reduce endless check-out lines and speed up the process for picking up something ordered online.

Cylance hires former DHS official, other prominent cyber experts


Technology startup Cylance Inc hired four prominent experts in the field of protecting power plants, water utilities and other infrastructure systems from cyber attacks as the firm gets ready to release its first line of security products.

The list includes Eric Cornelius, who just stepped down as deputy director and chief technical analyst with the Department of Homeland Security's Control Systems Security Program.

Chorus of Clearwire investors against Sprint bid growing louder


Investors holding 29 percent of the outstanding minority shares of Clearwire Corp are unhappy with Sprint's $2.2 billion bid for the wireless service provider and are pushing for a higher offer.

Sprint (Overland Park, USA), the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider, announced on December 17 an agreement to acquire the outstanding shares of Clearwire (Bellevue, USA) it doesn't already own for $2.97 per share. While Sprint holds a more than 50 percent stake in Clearwire, the deal requires approval from holders of just over 50 percent of Clearwire's minority shares.

AT&T mulls takeover in Europe: report


U.S. telecoms group AT&T is looking at an acquisition in Europe, possibly of Dutch peer KPN or the UK's Everything Everywhere, to offset weak growth at home, the Wall Street Journal reported.

AT&T (Dallas, USA) executives were considering a takeover in Europe, and some believed an opening existed now to buy a carrier in a major European market such as Britain, Germany or the Netherlands, the paper added.

AT&T faces $10 billion pension charge, other costs


AT&T Inc warned on Thursday that it will take a fourth quarter charge of about $10 billion due to bigger than expected pension obligations, sending its shares down 1.3 percent.

The telephone company also said that results would be hurt by higher than expected smartphone costs and damage due to Superstorm Sandy.

Cisco acquires minority stake in Russia's Parallels


Networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc has acquired a small stake in Russian software developer Parallels, Parallels said on Thursday.

Parallels (Moscow, Russia) said in a statement that Cisco (San Jose, USA) has bought about 1 percent of the company and added that the stake sale does not rule out a possible initial public offering of the Russian firm.

"We are looking at all possible ways to ensure liquidity options: dividend payouts, IPO, mergers and acquisitions," Parallel's press service said.

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