5G and Beyond

Mediacom seeks mobile trademark, but mum on launch plans

The filing of a trademark last year indicates that Mediacom Communications is making steps toward the eventual debut of an operator-branded mobile service, but the New York-based company is still not ready to discuss launch timing.

As first spotted by Wave7 Research's Jeff Moore, the cable operator filed for the "Mediacom Mobile" trademark on September 12, 2022.

That filing arrived more than six months after Mediacom Chairman, CEO and founder Rocco Commisso revealed in a chairman's letter that the company is "actively evaluating whether a compelling business case can be made for offering a Mediacom-branded mobile-phone service."

The filing indicates Mediacom is getting more serious about the idea. However, the company is keeping any specific details about possible launch timing and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partners close to the vest.

When asked for an update on Mediacom's mobile plans, a company official referenced what Commisso said in the February 2022 letter, and added: "The filing of this trademark is part of that overall process. I am unable to share any other details at this time."

Go it alone, or ride an NCTC deal?

One big question about those plans is whether Mediacom intends to carve out its own MVNO pact to get into the mobile fray, or if its plans hinge on when the National Content & Technology Cooperative (NCTC) is able to secure MVNO deals that will enable its membership – comprised of more than 700 small and midsized cable operators – to launch mobile services.

Mediacom is one of the NCTC's largest members. WideOpenWest (WOW), another NCTC member, has already launched mobile services in partnership with Reach Mobile.

In an interview with Light Reading earlier this month, NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli said the organization was still ironing out details but had "made significant progress with a number of parties … We're close to making final decisions and we hope to execute agreements by the end of January ... A solid number of members are ready to go as soon as we have agreements signed."

Cable connecting with mobile

If Mediacom does pull the trigger on a mobile offering, it would join a small but growing group of US cable operators that have already entered the mobile market. Comcast, Charter Communications and Cox Communications are all in the game via MVNO pacts with Verizon Communications. Altice USA is working with T-Mobile. And WOW, as noted earlier, has teamed with Reach Mobile.

Moore considers Mediacom part of "Junior Cable," a group of US cable operators that cover about one-third of the country that is not covered by Comcast and Charter.

On a recent Light Reading Podcast, Moore attributed cable's recent success in mobile to its scale, the simplicity and affordability of its packages and an under-appreciated local retail presence.

"It's hard to imagine calling the large cable companies disruptive but they have been in terms of pricing of $30 per month unlimited. That's been an underpinning of their success," Moore said on the podcast. "It seems to be all tailwinds as far as the cable companies entering the wireless market."

Mobile would be a new market for Mediacom. However, the company does have wireless experience.

In addition to deploying Wi-Fi hotspots throughout its footprint, Mediacom launched a fixed wireless access service in 2021.

That rural-focused service, called Mediacom Bolt, delivers home broadband services via CBRS spectrum and starts at $59.99 per month. Under a limited time promotion, Mediacom is currently offering three months of free service, plus free installation.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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