& cplSiteName &

Comcast Wins Spectrum – What's Next?

Mari Silbey
4/14/2017
50%
50%

Comcast was among the top winners in the FCC's historic broadcast incentive auction, taking home more than $1.7 billion worth of spectrum holdings. So what happens next?

First and foremost, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) knows it can use the new 600MHz spectrum to ease its reliance on Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s network for the upcoming Xfinity Mobile service. The cable company is exercising an MVNO agreement with Verizon to support Xfinity Mobile, but that means that Comcast has to pay Verizon every time a subscriber makes a phone call or tries to access the Internet when WiFi isn't available. Having its own spectrum means Comcast will be able to offload some of that traffic onto its own mobile network and therefore pay Verizon less money. (See Xfinity Mobile Isn't a WiFi Phone Service.)

Second, Comcast can use the 600MHz spectrum to put further pricing pressure on the wireless market as a whole. Because Comcast already has significant wireline assets in communities all around the country, it has the backhaul capacity in place to support significant increases in wireless broadband demand. In other words, Comcast only has to layer wireless service on top of the wireline capacity it already has in order to serve growing demand, whereas the traditional wireless carriers are looking at potentially huge costs to buy up backhaul capacity to support their customers' evolving needs. That wireless layer is cheaper than last-mile wired network infrastructure. (See Analysts More Than Bullish on Comcast MVNO.)


Want to know more about cable market trends? Check out our dedicated cable services content channel here on Light Reading.


Third, Comcast could turn its newfound wireless winnings into the first step in a broader spectrum grab. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) and T-Mobile US Inc. paid more than $6.2 billion and nearly $8 billion respectively for spectrum in the latest incentive auction, and both companies are considered possible acquisition targets. Given Comcast's existing assets, however, this course of action seems unlikely in the near term. The cable company has much cheaper avenues for expanding in the wireless market.

Fourth and finally, Comcast can use its new spectrum to build expertise in operating a mobile network as wired and wireless technologies continue to converge. Particularly with 5G right around the corner, it makes sense for Comcast to boost its ability to deliver connectivity to consumers in a number of different ways. Mobile delivery is very different from the broadband business Comcast's in today, and there will be a learning curve as the cable company figures out how to operate. Better that Comcast start early and learn from mistakes than try to compete in mobile only when 5G is already here. (See Cable Sees Wireless Opps in Partners, Smart Services.)

For now, Comcast isn't saying much of anything with regard to its spectrum plans. The company's official statement reads: "In the Forward auction, Comcast invested $1.7 billion to acquire spectrum in the markets identified in the FCC's Public Notice. Comcast cannot comment further on the Forward auction results until the FCC's anti-collusion quiet period ends."

However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's quiet period will end soon, and by then perhaps Comcast will be ready to expound further on its wireless ambitions. There's no question those ambitions run high.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
marjsdad
50%
50%
marjsdad,
User Rank: Lightning
4/14/2017 | 12:27:00 PM
Comcast's spectrum
I agree with your observation on Comcast's use of its new spectrum, especially since they've already announced they'll have their own handsets, which means they can accommodate whatever slices of spectrum they want to in addition to what Verizon has. While they're at it, why not deal with Sprint to use their 2.5 GHz spectrum (formerly used for WiMax) on their new handsets, in addition to the usual usual unlicensed Wi-Fi bands? That technically probably does not require even activating their MVNO with Sprint.
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Analyst Nolle: Fundamental Errors Plague NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/11/2017
Snapchat Misses Estimates, Eyes Reality Shows
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 8/11/2017
ATIS: Connected Car Security an Industry-Wide Issue
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/10/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.