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
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Introducing 'The New IP'
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/11/2014
Glimpsing the Self-Driving Car
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed