Light Reading
Spectrum won by Cox and other companies with ties to cable could set the stage for a market-targeted wireless network buildout

The Great Cable Spectrum Speculation

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/24/2008
50%
50%

Let the guessing games begin.

After nearly a handful of parties with ties to the cable industry bid for and won some valuable spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 700 MHz auctions, the next question is: What might they do with it?

The first, most likely answer is that they will spend the necessary dollars for a wireless network buildout and then offer wireless services to their cable TV customers.

Cox Communications Inc. , bidding as Cox Wireless Inc., won 14 Block A and eight Block B licenses for bids totaling just north of $304 million. (See Cox Waxes Wireless .) The locations of those licenses match up well with the operator's traditional hardwired cable footprint in markets such as San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. (See table below for a complete breakdown.)

Table 1: Cox's Spectrum Lineup

Market Frequency Block Winning Bid
Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va. A $18.8M
Macon, Ga. A $2.6M
Pensacola, Fla. A $19.4M
New Orleans, La. A $15.1M
Baton Rouge, La. A $9.5M
Fayetteville, Ark. A $6.1M
Omaha, Neb. A $5.7M
Wichita, Kan. A $7.8M
Topeka, Kan. A $1.7M
Tulsa, Okla. A $15.6M
Las Vegas, Nev. A $30.9M
Phoenix/Mesa, Ariz. A $53.04M
Tucson, Ariz. A $5.5M
San Diego, Calif. A $84.1M
Virginia (Caroline) B $619,000
Louisiana (Iberville) B $1.4M
Arkansas (Madison) B $979,000
Ocala, Fla. B $6.1M
Gainesville, Fla. B $8.06M
Fort Smith, Ark./Okla. B $5.7M
Roanoke, Va. B $2.3M
Lafayette, La. B $2.96M
Source: FCC data




Vulcan Spectrum LLC, an outfit linked to Paul Allen, the chairman of Charter Communications Inc. , netted two Block A licenses in the Pacific Northwest (Portland-Salem; and Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton) for a total of $112 million.

But winning bids weren't limited to major MSOs or companies that also happen to be corporate cousins of major MSOs.

Bresnan Communications LLC put up a total of $3.8 million to obtain Block A licenses in Billings and Great Falls, Mont., and a Block B license for the state.

BendBroadband of Oregon also locked in a Block B license for $6.74 million.

Now what?
None of these companies have said what they might do with the spectrum and when they might act on those plans. For this article, officials for Cox and BendBroadband declined comment.

Based on the amount of spectrum it bid for and won, Cox is positioned to make the most significant moves in this group. But what Cox might do is still anybody's guess, and right now the guess is that the company will build out a wireless network of its own and turn it into a launching pad for wireless broadband services, at least for starters.

"Data is their biggest advantage," Alan Breznick, senior analyst for Heavy Reading, says of Cox. "I think they want to be the total broadband provider in their markets, for both wired and wireless."

If Cox does opt to build out a wireless network, it's likely that it will first concentrate on its larger markets and those areas where it had to put up the most money to win spectrum. In order, the top five in those combined categories are: San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Pensacola, Fla., and Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va. New Orleans also fits into Cox's higher profile properties.

How rapidly and broadly Cox might act is still unknown. While Cox is among the most active MSOs when it comes to wireless backhaul services, it, along with some partners, has not expressed any concrete plans concerning some spectrum won almost two years ago.

Cox is a member of SpectrumCo, a cable consortium that won a batch of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in the fall of 2006. The other active members are Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Bright House Networks parent Advance/Newhouse. (See SpectrumCo Gets Licenses .) Cox is also a partner in the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)-cable joint venture, but the long-term potential of the JV has been questioned ever since expansion of the "Pivot" service was halted last November. (See Sprint Halts 'Pivot' Expansion.)

With this new spectrum, Cox "can control its own destiny in its own markets without having to kowtow later," an industry observer says.

As a privately held company, Cox can apply money to this project without having to worry about Wall Street's objections to increased spending. To the relief of those who feared a capital-intensive wireless infrastructure buildout, Comcast and Time Warner Cable stayed clear of the 700 MHz auction.

But that doesn’t mean an operator like Comcast is out of the 700 MHz picture, thanks in part to stipulations tied to the "open" C Block. A top industry analyst, following a meeting with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and CFO Michael Angelakis, suggested recently that "in an open access world, Comcast would envision itself as a network-agnostic application." (See Trading Places .) That approach could eventually open up mobile access opportunities for Internet-based content services like Fancast. (See Comcast Fires Up Fancast.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to the Tower Technology Summit, a conference focused on the infrastructure that drives technical innovation in the wireless industry. Collocated with the industry's largest wireless event, CTIA, in Las Vegas, April 1-2, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.


(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for ...
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together 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, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Frank Miller: Distributed Solutions are the Best Build for the Future - Part II

1|9|15   |   2:46   |   (0) comments


At SCTE, Frank Miller, Global CTO of MSO at Huawei, speaks about Cable 2.0 and its innovative future.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
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 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection -- That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive