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Yahoo Searches for Rural Wireless Allies

Jason Meyers

SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- In the shadow of the Alamo, site of a legendary Texas military defeat, everyone identifies with the underdog.

The theme of the Competitive Carrier Association's CCA Expo essentially is "All wireless carriers vs. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless " in a battle to differentiate service and gain enough market share to remain competitive.

In his keynote this morning, Scott Kelliher, vice president and industry lead for technology and telecom at Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), shared the competitive carriers' pain as he outlined ways Yahoo could help.

"We fight our own sort of duopoly at Yahoo," Kelliher said. "We're fighting a battle against Google and Facebook."

Kelliher said Yahoo is very interested in working with rural wireless providers, especially through the CCA, to help increase revenue and drive subscribers. The best way Yahoo can do that, he said, is by providing those carriers with syndicated content on their portals that will help make advertising real estate more valuable.

James Bowie, great grandfather of gender-bending pop genius David, had a torrid time at the Alamo, so legend has it.
James Bowie, great grandfather of gender-bending pop genius David, had a torrid time at the Alamo, so legend has it.

"This is a chance to take hyper-local news and add top-tier content," he said. "This type of content syndication lets you increase your own opportunities to sell advertising at higher CPMs [cost per thousand impressions]."

Syndicated search can also help smaller wireless carriers differentiate, Kelliher said, and Yahoo wants to be the carrier-friendly one to provide it. "Google has been disintermediating all types of carriers," he said. "Here's your chance to claw your way back."

The competitive scrappiness and anti-duopoly theme permeated most of this event's programs. At a lunch panel Wednesday on the FCC's 600MHz broadcast incentive auction, Kathleen Ham, vice president of federal regulatory affairs for T-Mobile US Inc. , noted: "I love this show because we're free to beat up on AT&T and Verizon, and everyone loves it."

Even the top man at Sprint sympathized with the wireless competitors. In his keynote Thursday morning, Masayoshi Son, chairman of SoftBank Corp. , and now also chairman of Sprint, railed against AT&T and Verizon, noting that the duo had 56% of the postpaid market share in the US in 2008, but that by 2013 that share had increased to 73%. (See Son: Dish Could Be Sprint's Great Ally.)

And to get on the crowd's side, he pointed to his own rural beginnings as evidence to the competitive carrier audience that anyone should have the opportunity to succeed.

"Rural pioneers built America. We should never forget this," Son said. "Now a duopoly is taking over," he proclaimed to his captive audience.

Son's rallying cry as he ended his keynote summed it up Alamo-style: "Let's fight back!"

— Jason Meyers, contributing editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
3/28/2014 | 9:24:04 AM
Caption Oddity
I wonder what James Bowie would say about the veracity of the picture caption in this article...
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/27/2014 | 7:33:10 PM
Re: Is Yahoo even in the fight?
re: "But does Yahoo have content that people are interested in anymore?"

Weather, Flickr, email, sports, finance, Katie Couric... there is a reason they claim to reach 800M users a day.
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 7:18:51 PM
Re: Is Yahoo even in the fight?
Thanks, Mitch. I haven't yet, no. But I did pick up a coonskin cap in San Antonio. Sarah told me it was a required component of the company dress code. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/27/2014 | 5:54:11 PM
Re: Is Yahoo even in the fight?
My thinking as well. Yahoo says its content can help rural service providers become more attractive. But does Yahoo have content that people are interested in anymore? 

And hey Jason -- welcome to Light Reading. Have you been presented with your mandatory galoshes and sombrero?
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 1:38:54 PM
Re: Is Yahoo even in the fight?
If they can change what my weather forecast is in Chicago, THEN we're talking.
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 1:34:05 PM
Re: Is Yahoo even in the fight?
Hello! Kelliher said these potential partnerships are part of Yahoo's "mobile first" strategy--trying to make all content more entertaining and more useful on mobile devices. He mentioned making weather apps "beautiful and elegant" by pulling photos from Flikr. Maybe they think making the weather more attractive will make them more attractive.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 1:21:15 PM
Is Yahoo even in the fight?
Hmm is Yahoo even in that fight with Google and Facebook? They seem so far gone to me. I guess they're the Windows Mobile to Android and iOS. THe Sprint to AT&T and T-Mobile. Who can they merge with?

Also, oh hey Jason!
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