Comcast confirmed July 14th, 2016 its mobile ambitions with the formation of a new mobile business division headed by long-time Comcast executive Greg Butz.
Comcast has built a substantial Wi-Fi network in recent years, but it still falls short compared to the level of wireless coverage that other major carriers can deliver. The cable company however is putting the right assets in place to expand its wireless footprint and be able to play in the same field as the major carriers.
Below shows Comcast’s plan of action with its mobile service.
- Comcast has activated its mobile virtual network operator agreement with Verizon.
- It has committed to participating in the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction.
- They have continued to build out more fiber to complement and strengthen its already widespread hybrid fiber-coaxial last-mile infrastructure.
As Analyst Francis McInerney of North River Ventures said when addressing a wireless crowd back in April If you aren’t thinking about Comcast, leave this industry.
Comcast is testing and learning
Comcast could benefit from rules designed to keep the prices down for everyone except the biggest carriers. The FCC plans to set aside some of the available spectrum for companies with few spectrum holdings in order to boost competition and prevent AT&T and Verizon from dominating the auction.
They have the ability to resell Verizon Wireless’ service per the contract they made in 2012, and they have been developing a large network of Wi-Fi hotspots, in part by turning its cable Internet customers’ home modems into hotspots. This gives them two ways of connecting for consumers.
Back in February of 2016, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts discussed the potential of cellular spectrum and Wi-Fi and said Our definition of broadband is totally different today than it was five years ago for what you get as a consumer, and I think that goes back into whether we can do something creative in the future, whether that’s involving spectrum or Wi-Fi or some of the existing relationships we’ve got.
In other words, use what you have and capitalize on the resources you’ve attained which would be Verizon in their case, speaking solely on mobile. Comcast is looking at the auction as a no harm no foul; if the price is right they will go for it and if not they aren’t losing anything by being involved.
Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit also commented about the auction and said Comcast has very valuable assets in the mobile space, 28 million customer relationships, 13.3 million hotspots, so they are assets that we want to leverage and we’re testing and learning.
No one said competition was fair
Comcast plays it smart. As Neil Smit mentioned, they want to “test and learn” about the wireless market and what it could do for them and their customers. Comcast knows how to play the game.
For example, when the FCC comes out with new set-top box rules, Comcast is looking to create an app solution that could cover potential losses of set-top box fees. As the internet continues to be a guiding force with consumers on how they get their content, Comcast partners with DreamWorks Animation to attain new content that consumers want, and when they have the opportunity to grab customers via mobile they take it.
No one said competition was easy, but Comcast sure knows how to be good at it.