Light Reading

Comcast Eyes Electrical Surge

Alan Breznick
1/23/2014
50%
50%

Call it a cable power play. Not content to sell video, broadband, voice, mobile, home security, home automation, and business telecom services to the world, Comcast is exploring the idea of peddling electricity.

Greentech Media reported Wednesday that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is gearing up to sell electrical power in its home state. Robert Powelson, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, said the Philadelphia MSO is teaming up with a retail electric supplier to offer an electricity product in the fourth quarter.

Speaking to reporters, Powelson did not name the retail supplier. But a spokesman for NRG Energy of Princeton, NJ, later told Philly.com that his company is "working with Comcast on a new initiative."

A Comcast spokeswoman confirmed Thursday in an email, "As you may have read, we are exploring a relationship with a third-party supplier, NRG, to conduct a retail energy trial in Pennsylvania." She did not offer further details.

A successful trial could catapult Comcast into yet another service category. In the last couple of years, the MSO has branched out from its more traditional cable services of video, broadband, and voice by adding wireless, multiscreen video, home security, and home automation to its ever-growing roster of residential offerings. (See Betting on Smart Homes.)

For example, as Greentech Media reported, Comcast could bundle an electricity service with its Xfinity Home automation service. Among other things, Xfinity offers home controls for lighting and heating, making it a good complement for an electricity offering.

Such speculation may be premature, especially if Comcast short circuits the potential trial with NRG. However, with the US pay TV market pretty saturated and the broadband market nearing the saturation point, we shouldn't be surprised if the electricity business lights a fuse for Comcast and other MSOs.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(11)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/26/2014 | 1:31:49 PM
Re: Why not?
Good points, Mark. The technical capabilities are different. If this develops any further, it will be interesting to see exactly what role Comcast will play and what its business model will be.  
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/26/2014 | 1:29:03 PM
Re: Because cable service never fails ...
True. I did go a bit far there. Guess I'm thinking big, just like Comcast often does. But it is quite a stretch to say that they're looking to become a new Con Ed or PSEG right now. So I take it back.   
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 3:01:43 PM
Re: Why not?
Yes but with phone there's technical synergy, the infrastructure and access, sure theres cap ex to to build the service, but there was leaverage too, plus it's scalable meaning they could to it across their foot print.  In any case, no big deal, guess we'll see when/how/if they roll, it's always in the details.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 12:32:55 PM
Re: Because cable service never fails ...
I'm not speaking from personal experience here -- just an observation about how cable operators show up in satisfaction surveys. But it's more than a stretch to say that what Comcast is rumored to be thinking about is becoming an electric utility. This is more like branding a white-label service and selling it as part of a bundle.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/24/2014 | 12:32:47 PM
Re: Why not?
Very interesting. I don't know yet if Comcast is just dabbling or really serious about this idea. And it's hard to imagine them entering another regulatory minefield like this. But, as Dan points out below, Comcast has done this sort of thing before, particularly in the heavily regulated phone business. So who knows?  
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/24/2014 | 12:29:56 PM
Re: Because cable service never fails ...
Spoken like a tried-and-true Comcast subscriber. Guess you don't want them as your electric utility any time soon, eh?
GregW333
50%
50%
GregW333,
User Rank: Lightning
1/24/2014 | 9:53:58 AM
Re: Why not?
In the longer term, I think this is more strategically aligned than NBC.  Worldwide network operators are, or have, shed media assets.  

One of the many interesting issues to watch is the regulatory area. FCC vs. DOE, State vs. Federal...yikes.  If Comcast is serious about this, they should run like hell and worry about the regulators in 5 years when they figure out what's going on.  They did this very successfully with broadband.  

I actually think this makes sense in the long term.  

Greg W. 
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 9:41:50 AM
Re: Why not?
No I think you've got it...ie this is a cute one off exploration of a concept that won't likely move beyond this trial given the complicated state by state utility regulations Comcast won't want to have absolutely anything to do with. Imagine though...the biggest cable provider, largest TV provider, third largest phone company, and massive NBC empire also providing electricity? Amazing (maybe terrifying) but unlikely.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 9:35:08 AM
Because cable service never fails ...
Kind of a ballsy play by Comcast, given the fact that the cable industry's reputation for reliability and customer service remains a bit ... challenged. Then again, Comcast won't be involved in actually delivering electricity.
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/23/2014 | 11:48:32 PM
Re: Why not?
Interesting, but where's the technical synergy, and I'm wondering about the margins and such.  A partnership is one thing, but for a game changing product, I'm thinking it has to be scalable as well as leveraging something that's already there.  Maybe I'm missing something.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/21/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
Potholes Lurk in Indian Smart City Project
Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, 5/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones
Too Fluffy to Talk Click Here
Elmer found that his bountiful fur got in the way of meaningful conversation.