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Old 05-19-2014, 02:23 PM   #91
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Plus, the elimination of competition between DirecTV and AT&T would occur in such a small relative area, it's not a major loss. Sure, AT&T "covers" 22 states with their wireline services, but U-Verse is only available in a small percentage of each of those states.
But pretty much every U-verse area has DirecTV available. If AT&T were required to divest themselves of all U-Verse subs in order to merge, it would wipe out U-verse as a business.

I see the competition problem as being much more difficult for AT&T to overcome than it will be for Comcast.
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Old 05-19-2014, 03:05 PM   #92
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One of the theories I've seen espoused is that AT&T will encourage satellite usage, thus freeing some video traffic from U-Verse. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The much more plausible theory is that AT&T wants access to DirecTV's cash stream for funding wireless expansion.
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Old 05-19-2014, 03:45 PM   #93
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U-Verse and DirecTV compete directly here in CT (although AT&T is selling us off to Frontier). However, DirecTV is already reliant on U-Verse for internet, as all the other fast internet options are cable, and they charge more if you use another provider for your video.

U-Verse has extremely patchy availability, but where it is available, it's somehow catching on.

DirecTV isn't going to replace U-Verse, but the issue is, it removes at least a partial competitor from the market. It's a weird match, as U-Verse is a more value-oriented service, whereas DirecTV is a premium service. What I could see happening is some cross-programming deals, especially DirecTV programming coming to U-Verse, as U-Verse has virtually unlimited channel capacity (even though you only get 4 HD streams in the whole house and it slows the internet down).
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Old 05-19-2014, 04:20 PM   #94
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The much more plausible theory is that AT&T wants access to DirecTV's cash stream for funding wireless expansion.
AT&T's wireless expansion is on the downhill slope. The theory I've read is that AT&T wants DirecTV's cash stream to fund increased dividends to shareholders.

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U-Verse has extremely patchy availability, but where it is available, it's somehow catching on.
I've noticed this too. People seem to hate their cable company so much that they are desperate for any alternative, even an inferior one like U-verse.
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Old 05-19-2014, 04:57 PM   #95
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I still think that once the merge is actually complete (couple years?) they'll start pushing video subscribers over to DirecTV and using their U-verse infrastructure strictly for internet. The combination of DSS for linear TV and U-verse for internet and VOD allows them to more directly compete with cable offerings. It's a little more hassle to set up, since it's basically two separate services, but bundle pricing and a single bill might make it enticing to some. Plus, as someone above mentioned, some people hate cable so much their willing to try any alternative.
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:20 PM   #96
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It's a little more hassle to set up, since it's basically two separate services, but bundle pricing and a single bill might make it enticing to some.
But you don't have to pay $45 Billion to buy DirecTV to give people a single bill option or a bundling discount. If DirecTV and AT&T want to give people a discount for having both services, then they can just give people a discount.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:50 PM   #97
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I saw a report on the sale this morning on one of the news networks (I think it was CNN). The general consensus was that the sale basically benefited both companies and not so much the consumer. The only way I can see the consumer getting anything out of this arrangement is that DirecTV will now have the ability to bundle internet and phone service along with their satellite TV service.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:08 PM   #98
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But you don't have to pay $45 Billion to buy DirecTV to give people a single bill option or a bundling discount. If DirecTV and AT&T want to give people a discount for having both services, then they can just give people a discount.
Cooperation by companies like that is pretty rare and hard to maintain long term.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:08 PM   #99
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U-Verse is dead. AT&T stopped building it out years ago. Verizon has done the same with FIOS even though FIOS (unlike U-Verse) was a well-regarded and very in-demand service. Buying somebody like DTV is the only way they can expand their customer base since they've abandoned growing it by expanding their cable-tv subscriber base.

I can't see either delivering wireless home broadband via LTE-Advanced because they simply don't have the spectrum to deliver the necessary bandwidth. They hardly have enough to satisfy their mobile customers, and home use is probably an order of magnitude higher.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:10 PM   #100
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I saw a report on the sale this morning on one of the news networks (I think it was CNN). The general consensus was that the sale basically benefited both companies and not so much the consumer. The only way I can see the consumer getting anything out of this arrangement is that DirecTV will now have the ability to bundle internet and phone service along with their satellite TV service.
By having the ability to bundle linear TV, internet and phone and offer higher speeds by pushing video over to DSS they become more competitive with the cable company. That should benefit all consumers as it'll create more real competition with less compromises which should push prices down.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:34 PM   #101
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I wonder if this will have any effect on how the FCC treats DirecTV, or even Dish, with regards to CableCARDs, or whatever it's successor is? The DSS providers got special waivers originally because they were small and at the time you could buy their receivers at retail. But now that AT&T is at the helm I doubt the FCC is going to give them any sort of special pass because of their size.

I know there is a technological issue that will prevent them from ever using CableCARDs, but I really hope that all MSOs are forced to use whatever the successor to CableCARD is.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:51 PM   #102
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U-Verse is dead. AT&T stopped building it out years ago. Verizon has done the same with FIOS even though FIOS (unlike U-Verse) was a well-regarded and very in-demand service. Buying somebody like DTV is the only way they can expand their customer base since they've abandoned growing it by expanding their cable-tv subscriber base.
Satellite is more "dead" than U-Verse or FIOS. U-Verse and FIOS could grow more if they wanted, but anyone who wants satellite at this point already has satellite. The number of satellite TV customers will not be growing significantly in the future no matter what.
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Old 05-19-2014, 08:44 PM   #103
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Satellite is more "dead" than U-Verse or FIOS. U-Verse and FIOS could grow more if they wanted, but anyone who wants satellite at this point already has satellite.
That's my point. If you can't grow your customer base because you refuse to expand to new cities, how do you expand your customer base? You buy somebody else's customers. It doesn't matter that the new customer base isn't growing either.

I wonder what's going to happen to U-Verse & FIOS infrastructure. They aren't expanding or improving it (and in the case of U-Verse was no great shakes to begin with), so are they just going to run it into the ground? Spend as little as possible until it rots?
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:34 AM   #104
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Satellite is more "dead" than U-Verse or FIOS. U-Verse and FIOS could grow more if they wanted, but anyone who wants satellite at this point already has satellite. The number of satellite TV customers will not be growing significantly in the future no matter what.

I don't think FIOS or U-Verse could grow more if they wanted to. I mean that sounds like me saying I could buy a much bigger house and better car and go on 5 more vacations this year if I wanted to.

I guess I could. But it wouldn't make much financial sense.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:52 AM   #105
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I don't think FIOS or U-Verse could grow more if they wanted to.
Not in their existing markets, perhaps. They could expand service into new cities though. FIOS in particular was talking about doing exactly that, though they never really followed through on that promise. Some states, in particular Florida, have cable tv rules that encourage such expansion.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:39 AM   #106
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They could pick and choose winners based on channels they decide to carry or websites they decide to degrade the traffic for. If you want to reach a large number of internet users in the US, you'll have to do whatever Comcast wants you to do.
This is based in FUD.
Comcast has been held to net neutrality since the NBC deal and even after the supreme court decision that doing what you propose would be legal.
Even AT&T said they would bind to net neutrality for this deal.
That specific argument doesn't hold water.

As far as what channels they put on, think about it. Isn't there too many bundled channels already? That isn't Comcast, AT&T, DTV etc fault but that of the media companies who only sell bundles for distribution.
Have you seen the list of cable channels Viacom owns?

Now if we argue that customer support can get worse, resources stretched, etc, I'm with you there. Those are valid concerns for the customer.
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:06 PM   #107
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This is based in FUD.
Comcast has been held to net neutrality since the NBC deal and even after the supreme court decision that doing what you propose would be legal.
Even AT&T said they would bind to net neutrality for this deal.
That specific argument doesn't hold water.
They are not bound to those rules in perpetuity.
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Old 05-20-2014, 02:09 PM   #108
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By having the ability to bundle linear TV, internet and phone and offer higher speeds by pushing video over to DSS they become more competitive with the cable company. That should benefit all consumers as it'll create more real competition with less compromises which should push prices down.
That's what I was thinking, but the report seemed to indicate otherwise. It was being broadcast on the TV in the break room at work and I was just passing through so I didn't get the full context of the report. OTOH, this was on CNN so take it for what it's worth.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:20 PM   #109
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Here is the deal. Uverse is garbage. The DSL speeds pale in comparison in most areas to what Comcast offers and the cost is pretty high. Especially when the promo rates run out. The PQ sucks on the tv side of things as well.

By purchasing D* AT&T can now free up all the bandwidth on their already bandwidth starved copper lines. They can use their existing installers to be cross trained to install dishes (synergy savings) and offer significantly higher speeds.

They can also offer bundles with wireless, TV and internet to combat the Comcast triple play offers.

They also gain D*'s cash flow.

If they really want to push the envelope they can use the free cash flow to invest in dropping fiber to everyone replacing the old copper that is there. IF they did that they would be a power house. Imagine offering D* with 100mbs internet and wireless for a nice bundle?

Win win. No telling if they do the last thing but if I were the CEO I'd be pushing for that because despite the costs involved you will be setting yourself up to be the premiere provider of internet in the country for the next century.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:42 PM   #110
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Win win. No telling if they do the last thing but if I were the CEO I'd be pushing for that because despite the costs involved you will be setting yourself up to be the premiere provider of internet in the country for the next century.
They don't care about the next century, all they care about is the next quarter. Long-term strategic planning is no longer valued in the market. Eventually, this will be their undoing.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:49 PM   #111
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Not in their existing markets, perhaps. They could expand service into new cities though. FIOS in particular was talking about doing exactly that, though they never really followed through on that promise. Some states, in particular Florida, have cable tv rules that encourage such expansion.
But the whole reason they stopped is because of the money it cost to build out fiber to the home and the returns they have been getting on that investment.

And now look at these threads about how everyone is cutting the cord. If this is the start of a large movement then it can only hurt returns. Those people will just get internet.

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Old 05-20-2014, 04:23 PM   #112
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I still think that once the merge is actually complete (couple years?) they'll start pushing video subscribers over to DirecTV and using their U-verse infrastructure strictly for internet. The combination of DSS for linear TV and U-verse for internet and VOD allows them to more directly compete with cable offerings. It's a little more hassle to set up, since it's basically two separate services, but bundle pricing and a single bill might make it enticing to some. Plus, as someone above mentioned, some people hate cable so much their willing to try any alternative.
They may push some subs over to DirecTV who "outgrow" U-Verse, and they could have installers cross-trained. However, they can't totally get rid of U-Verse's video product. There are many places where it can go that DirecTV can't:

1. People who live in MDUs.
2. People with trees.
3. People who have an irrational fear of a pizza-sized object on their roof that says "DirecTV" on it.

This is really ironic, since there are still some of those awful old SBC-DISH dishes around.

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I know there is a technological issue that will prevent them from ever using CableCARDs, but I really hope that all MSOs are forced to use whatever the successor to CableCARD is.
You could force some variant of CableCard on DirecTV, but the TiVo would need a SWiM tuner built in to work...

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I don't think FIOS or U-Verse could grow more if they wanted to. I mean that sounds like me saying I could buy a much bigger house and better car and go on 5 more vacations this year if I wanted to.
FIOS and U-Verse have a lot of room to expand. U-Verse is very patchy, and there are a TON of crossboxes that don't have VRADs right now, and can't currently get U-Verse, including many that would be a textbook example of where FTTC/FTTN works well (if it works well anywhere). FIOS has many areas it's not in at all that are owned by Verizon, as well as a lot of roads, complexes, and buildings that are in FIOS areas, but aren't actually connected to FIOS.
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:06 PM   #113
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From what I've heard and read AT&T is buying DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket. There is a condition that if the DirecTV execs can't renew the Sunday Ticket with the NFL then the acquisition won't happen.
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:15 PM   #114
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FIOS and U-Verse have a lot of room to expand. U-Verse is very patchy, and there are a TON of crossboxes that don't have VRADs right now, and can't currently get U-Verse, including many that would be a textbook example of where FTTC/FTTN works well (if it works well anywhere). FIOS has many areas it's not in at all that are owned by Verizon, as well as a lot of roads, complexes, and buildings that are in FIOS areas, but aren't actually connected to FIOS.
AGain I think that's cause they don't have the money to expand. It isn't that they don't have "room."

They like money. IF they were making a decent return on the capital they deployed in the fiber to the home build out then you think they would do more of it.

The only other thing that makes sense to me is they see how wireless would become a good substitute for much less capital deployed.

Or in ATTs case maybe it has something to do with DirectTV being a much more cost effective way for them to deliver video content.
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:21 PM   #115
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They may push some subs over to DirecTV who "outgrow" U-Verse, and they could have installers cross-trained. However, they can't totally get rid of U-Verse's video product. There are many places where it can go that DirecTV can't:

1. People who live in MDUs.
2. People with trees.
3. People who have an irrational fear of a pizza-sized object on their roof that says "DirecTV" on it.

This is really ironic, since there are still some of those awful old SBC-DISH dishes around.
Nothing guaranteeing they wont just say FU to those people and dump U-verse TV completely. Although since U-verse is pure IP it wouldn't really hurt them to keep both around. Unless there is some business issue with maintaining both sides.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:44 PM   #116
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Here is the deal. Uverse is garbage. The DSL speeds pale in comparison in most areas to what Comcast offers and the cost is pretty high. Especially when the promo rates run out. The PQ sucks on the tv side of things as well.

By purchasing D* AT&T can now free up all the bandwidth on their already bandwidth starved copper lines. They can use their existing installers to be cross trained to install dishes (synergy savings) and offer significantly higher speeds.

They can also offer bundles with wireless, TV and internet to combat the Comcast triple play offers.

They also gain D*'s cash flow.

If they really want to push the envelope they can use the free cash flow to invest in dropping fiber to everyone replacing the old copper that is there. IF they did that they would be a power house. Imagine offering D* with 100mbs internet and wireless for a nice bundle?

Win win. No telling if they do the last thing but if I were the CEO I'd be pushing for that because despite the costs involved you will be setting yourself up to be the premiere provider of internet in the country for the next century.
And, if AT&T really want to grow customer base they would replace ALL the crappy set top boxes with TiVo Roamios, but we all know pig will fly before that happen.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:18 AM   #117
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The big problem Verizon faces with FiOS expansion is the huge cost of stringing new cable. Obtaining right of way rights is difficult to negotiate and towns wring every last cent they can from the company. Add in the extremely high labor and material costs and you end up needing some pretty serious revenue to justify the expense. So far, that revenue has not materialized. Verizon sells phone and internet to many more FiOS customers than they sell TV service to. I'm willing to bet that AT&T has seen the same thing, only amplified since FiOS is far more attractive than Uverse.

As far as AT&T moving towards using DirecTV and phasing out Uverse video, it has been suggested that there are some that can't or won't accept satellite TV. Let's look at the places where satellite doesn't seem to work...

Apartment buildings: DirecTV currently has a substantial business in apartment (MDU) installations. They are also developing a new distribution system (a variation of their current SWiM system) that runs over the existing cable in any centrally wired building.

Line of sight problems: These are usually more of a problem in urban areas where a tall building be the obstacle. I've seen very densely wooded lots be able to find a spot for a dish. There are also creative ways to deal with this (see below).

The "ugly dish" sentiment: This can be driven by the homeowner or a neighborhood covenant. Often the issue is being able to see the dish from the street, which is easily handled most of the time. But again, this can be addressed.

The solution to both line of site and "dish-phobia" problems is to move the dish to a central location. AT&T could build a hybrid DSS/copper system where the satellite dish is located at a central neighborhood location and the signal is then delivered to the home via copper. This could use a dedicated pair, or coax if available, freeing the Uverse pair for broadband only. Again, DirecTV already has the technology to support this sort of installation.

These are all mid to long term developments that may or may not happen. Near term, AT&T gains a few important benefits. First, they get a big cash flow, improving their performance which will drive the stock price up. Secondly, the biggest single ongoing expense for cable and satellite operators is the cost of content. Growing from 6 million to over 26 million subscribers will allow AT&T to cut deals that make their TV operations more profitable. Finally, they go from being a 22 state operation to a 50 state operation (plus Puerto Rico and Latin America).

More speculatively, as more and more broadband traffic moves to wireless, there are some interesting possibilities in the use of DirecTV's spectrum. For example, over the next 10 years DirecTV will phase out their SD distribution. This will require replacing a lot of legacy receivers that are incompatible with the newer HD signals, but it will happen eventually. That will release the entire DBS spectrum at 101WL and the portions that DirecTV owns at 110WL and 119WL. Then there is the newly licensed RDBS spectrum at 99WL and 103WL. Added together, that's about equal to all of the spectrum currently in use for HD distribution. What they could do with all that spectrum is quite intriguing.

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Old 05-21-2014, 08:51 AM   #118
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What they could do with all that spectrum is quite intriguing.
Actual 1080P? 4K? It will also be interesting to see how fast there adapt H.265 which could "effectively" double their spectrum again.
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:21 AM   #119
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Nothing guaranteeing they wont just say FU to those people and dump U-verse TV completely. Although since U-verse is pure IP it wouldn't really hurt them to keep both around. Unless there is some business issue with maintaining both sides.
The AT&T CEO specifically said they intend to keep both U-Verse's IP distribution and DirecTV's satellite distribution in place.

They'll save bandwidth and money by pushing as many people to DirecTV as possible and only using IP for distribution when they must (such as MDUs). Plus, they could theoretically use DirecTV to backhaul to VRADs instead of the infrastructure in the ground. Technology already exists to encapsulate DirecTV signals into IP packets and send it over ethernet in MDU situations. There's no reason they couldn't adapt that technology to push the dish a little further upstream if necessary. Plus, DirecTV has online viewing infrastructure in place already and controls their entire technology stack, meaning they can adapt and change it as they need to. U-Verse uses a fully off the shelf system purchased from Microsoft (now Ericsson) and they have little room to modify it as needed.

I suspect getting a fully-owned and developed platform without having to start from scratch was an important input into the decision to buy DirecTV.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:14 PM   #120
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I doubt they will use dishes at the VRAD as they have fiber to those already and it has more then enough bandwidth to handle all of their customers. The choke point is the copper running to each house. I'm sure that once they are up and running they will start to push customers toward using DSS for TV so they can offer them higher internet speeds. Those that can't will be allowed to stay with U-verse but with limited internet speeds.
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