Light Reading

Does Cable Have a Wireless Plan B?

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
8/1/2011
50%
50%

If Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) doesn't pan out, what are the WiMax champion's cable partners -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks -- going to do?

None have publicly discussed the idea of crafting a wireless plan B, but speculation that something is afoot has been swirling for weeks, with at least one of those partners, TW Cable, along with Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) being linked to discussions with LightSquared . (See Cablevision Also Kicking LightSquared's Tires? and Rumor: TW Cable Talking With LightSquared.)

Another popular rumor has the MSOs with Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) holdings (Comcast, TW Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House) talking with Sprint about swapping some of that coveted spectrum for an equity stake and giving it a go from there. Sprint's not expected to offer more details about its 4G Network Vision strategy until Oct. 7. (See Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum, Sprint's $13.5B Jump to LTE With LightSquared and What Will Sprint Reveal of its 4G Plans?)

"One thing they [the Clearwire MSO partners] have to do is make contingency plans ... in case Clearwire unravels," says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett. Discussions about an equity-for-spectrum play could help "grease the skids" for a potential plan B, Moffett says, noting that it doesn't appear that any such deal appears to be imminent.

And he doesn't believe the cable guys are in a position to quickly pull the trigger on an strategy that involves LightSquared, which just inked network-sharing deal with Sprint but still faces regulatory uncertainty. (See Sprint's $13.5B Jump to LTE With LightSquared.)

Moffett says "it's all but inconceivable" that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will approve LightSquared's use of the lower L Band without further testing. LightSquared has expressed some hope it would gain FCC approval by mid-September.

"That sounds like wishful thinking," Moffett says, noting recent Federal Aviation Administration findings that GPS services will still face significant interference in the L-Band, despite LightSquared's revised plan. The situation "really ties the FCC's hands," the analyst adds. (See LightSquared Submits Plan to FCC and LightSquared Claims It Has Answer to GPS Problem.)

It's not LighSquared's fault that GPS receivers operate outside their allotted band, but that's the cards it's playing with. And it's that kind of uncertainty that could give cable pause.

That much was evident last week during TW Cable's second-quarter earnings call. MSO CEO Glenn Britt was noncommittal about what TW Cable might do with its AWS holdings, and isn't exactly pleased about WiMax subscriber growth, calling it "not terribly exciting." Comcast's next best chance to address its wireless future is Wednesday morning, when it reports second-quarter numbers. (See TW Cable Stays in Wireless Holding Pattern.)

Cablevision, meanwhile, has been enjoying success with its Wi-Fi deployment, but hints that it's considering other mobile strategies for voice and other types of mobile broadband services emerged even before the rumor spread that the MSO was in talks with LightSquared. (See Cablevision Trademarks Mobile, RS-DVR Brands.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
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 Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
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.
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
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
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.