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Telecom Stock Roundup: FCC's Fee Hike & "Unlock the Box" Plan Raise the Ire of Pay-TV Operators

No significant developments were noted in the telecom industry last week despite a solid run on the bourse. However, few events made it to the headlines like the U.S. telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to raise annual fees for satellite TV providers like AT&T Inc. T controlled DIRECTV and DISH Network Corp. DISH . These operators will now have to cough up 27 cents per subscriber - more than double the fees of 12 cents charged last year. However, the charges are lower than the rate of $1 per subscriber paid by cable TV and IPTV providers.

Major U.S. pay-TV operators are vehemently opposing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by Tom Wheeler, the FCC Chairman. In Feb 2016, the FCC voted 3-2 to advance the "Unlock the Box" NPRM. The proposal is likely to go for final voting on Sep 29, 2016. Pay-TV biggies like Comcast Corp. CMCSA , AT&T, Charter Communications Inc. CHTR and industry trade group National Cable & Telecommunications Association are taking a stand against the FCC proposal.

In a separate development, research report published by research and advisory firm, Ovum stated thatthe cellular mobile machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are expected to spread across the globe. By 2021, as many as 733 million of these M2M connections are estimated globally. This is almost 8.1% of all cellular connections forecasted in 2021. However, this expansion does not include the Narrow-band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm Inc. QCOM , the largest manufacturer of wireless chipsets, has teamed up with AT&T to evaluate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones on commercial 4G LTE networks. Notably, the trial will put the safety and security of drones on 4G LTE and 5G networks to test.

Sprint Corp. S , the U.S. national wireless carrier, and Nokia Corp. NOK , a leading telecom infrastructure developer, recently promoted their three-channel carrier aggregation in Kansas City's LTE Plus Network. The three-channel carrier aggregation was advertised using the latest network technology devices -- the Samsung Galaxy Note7, Galaxy S7, S7 edge, HTC 10 and LG G5, each having Internet download speeds of more than 230 Mbps (Mega Bits Per Second). Sprint currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Outside the U.S., Spanish telecom behemoth Telefonica SA TEF plans to file for an initial public offering (IPO) of its infrastructure division Telxius in the second half of 2016. The company may also consider a share market listing (an IPO) for its...