Comcast shares the wireless wealth with Nokia
The vendor side of Comcast's emerging wireless and mobile strategy took more shape today as the operator announced it will roll out Nokia's 5G Stand Alone Core networking software to support its deployment of CBRS and 600MHz spectrum.
Comcast will deploy that spectrum in select, high-traffic areas in support of both residential and business customers that take mobile services from the operator. Deploying fresh spectrum in those areas will give Comcast a greater degree of ownership economics with wireless and help to offset a portion of the MVNO costs associated with its pact with Verizon. Those deployments will also build on Comcast's current Wi-Fi offload strategy that involves millions of access points deployed in customer homes and in certain metro areas.
Announced ahead of next week's MWC in Barcelona, Comcast's rollout with Nokia also includes the supplier's Packet Core, promising "near zero touch automation" and low-latency capabilities, they said. Financial terms weren't announced, but Nokia also will provide Comcast with consulting services.
Comcast and Nokia are currently conducting field trials, including tests with Comcast employees. Comcast didn't reveal the location of its test markets, but the announcement indicates the operator is finally starting to gear up this important piece of its wireless strategy.
Putting its spectrum to work
The software piece of Comcast's wireless puzzle comes together more than two years after the company bid for and won licensed CBRS spectrum. Comcast also spent $1.7 billion on 600MHz spectrum licenses back in 2017.
Though Comcast has no plans to deploy a national wireless network, it estimates that its current spectrum holdings cover roughly 80% of its homes passed and about 50% of the US population.
"Combining Nokia's industry-leading solutions with Comcast's targeted network design and new dual SIM technology allows us to create exciting next-generation wireless offerings," Tom Nagel, SVP of wireless strategy at Comcast, said in a statement.
Multi-vendor but not open RAN
With the Nokia selection, Comcast continues to flesh out its wireless vendor partners and its adoption of 5G standalone (SA) technology.
Last fall, Comcast announced it would use Samsung radios, including strand-mounted small cells, for its targeted 5G network. Comcast will deploy separate Samsung radios for the CBRS and 600MHz bands and use its wireline network to help backhaul traffic.
At the time, Comcast confirmed to Light Reading that its wireless network deployment is "using a multi-vendor solution but not within an open RAN framework."
Comcast's wireless network evolution is underway as the operator continues to grow a mobile business that launched almost six years ago. Comcast added a record 365,000 mobile lines in Q4 2022, raising its total to 5.31 million.
Meanwhile, Comcast recently introduced a limited-time service convergence bundle for new customers that offers one unlimited mobile line and a 200Mbit/s home broadband service (with the Wi-Fi gateway included) for $50 per month – for a period of 24 months.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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