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
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
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.