Verizon to buy Alltel, your cell phone bill to go up? — Verizon has concluded a deal to buy smaller wireless operator Alltel for $27 billion. Combined, the two will pass AT&T to become the largest operator in the US. Alltel has many users in the Midwest, and it has gotten relatively good marks for things like customer service, that market leaders like Verizon and AT&T are not known for. Analyst Craig Moffett of Sanford C. Bernstein is optimistic about such consolidation driving up prices for consumers. The New York Times quotes him as follows:
The consolidation of Alltel takes another step towards rationalizing and consolidating the U.S. Wireless industry, something that must be viewed as a positive. Fewer players will inevitably mean greater pricing stability (although only marginally so, since the smaller operators increasingly have been in the position of taking their cues from the Big Four anyway), and should lead to marketing efficiencies for all players as competition for retail distribution consolidates.
“Pricing stability,” of course, is a euphemism for less competition, but the deal is expected to pass regulators, and anyway, some consumer-rights groups aren’t worried. For mobile startups, this all means there’s one less wireless operator out there to try to work with. [AP photo via The Boston Globe.]
Valley VC Vinod Khosla to get backing from CalPERS for cleantech investments — The California pension fund is expected to put up to $640 million into Kholsa Ventures, Khosla’s self-titled and self-funded investment vehicle that has focused on cleantech investments. PEHub has details; see also our previous coverage of the Wall Street Journal’s criticism of Khosla’s biofuel investments, and his response.
Microsoft may buy information management software company Zoomix for $20 to $30 million — more here.
HP also getting into cleantech — The storied tech conglomerate has announced an agreement with Xtreme Energetics to develop a solar energy system designed to generate electricity “at twice the efficiency and half the cost of traditional solar panels,” it claims. HP is licensing its transparent transistor technology, which it developed in conjunction with Oregon State University, to Xtreme Energetics in exchange for royalty payments.
Business software company EMC to buy data storage firm Iomega — The move will set EMC off on a new strategy to create a consumer business in data storage, an area that Google and other consumer-facing Internet companies have also been getting into.
The Los Angeles Times launches a tech blog — This means more competition for VentureBeat, which we, of course, welcome. The blog’s staff includes the excellent Jessica Guynn, who was recently hired away from The San Francisco Chronicle.