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Moto Mobility CEO: 4G Can't Do It Alone

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

ATLANTA -- SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2011 -- 4G technologies like Long Term Evolution (LTE) may be screaming fast compared to 3G, but they aren't necessarily suitable to handle all of a consumer's broadband needs, Motorola Mobility LLC Chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha said here this morning.

For him, it's a question of the 4G network's economic, rather than physical, limitations. On that point, he estimates that the cost of delivering one gigabyte of data via the mobile wireless world is 30 to 100 times as much as it costs to send over a cable modem.

A pro-cable modem message was sure to be a hit with cable operators that are already facing a small cord-cutting threat to their video subscription business. Even with the massive popularity of smartphones, Jha doesn't believe wireless broadband will become an economically suitable replacement, but he does see 4G serving as a powerful complement to broadband services piped over cable modems.

Different parts of the world, where HFC and fiber networks aren't as plentiful, however, may hold a different view. Jha acknowledged that wireless broadband is a "more dominant factor" in parts of the world such as Southeast Asia.

4G will "change the way people connect and stay connected," he said, but even those devices eventually "have to come home," where they will link up with the user's broadband-connected home network. "All of these devices will be close to this big broadband pipe," Jha said.

This sort of thinking works for Motorola, of course, because it happens to sell wireless handsets as well as cable broadband gear, such as cable modems and set-tops.

But Cox Communications Inc. , which sells both types of services, is pretty glad it has the wires. (See Cox Wireless Clears California .)

"Broadband has changed our world," said Cox President Pat Esser, who served as Jha's moderator. He said the proliferation of fixed and mobile wireless devices is good for cable because consumers will need a faster connection in the home. "Customers will come to us to get it," he said, echoing a broadband, ISP-focused emphasis that MSOs are starting to express as the margins on the traditional video business continue to shrink. (See Charter Ready to Give DSL a Thrashing and TWC: Broadband Becoming 'Anchor Service'.)

A Googley moment
Esser did ask Jha about how Motorola Mobility's proposed acquisition will affect his company, but Jha couldn't say much while the companies continue to operate separately and the deal faces regulatory review. (See Cover Sheet: Google to Acquire Moto Mobility.)

"What excites me about this combination is to bring Internet learnings that Google has to our capability," he said. "It's a little too early to say how that will play out."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:55 PM
re: Moto Mobility CEO: 4G Can't Do It Alone

I got the sense this autumn that operators are definitely a bit leery of how much traffic a tablet can chew through....

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