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Comcast Taps Amazon As 'Preferred' Cloud Provider

Comcast is turning to Amazon Web Services as it looks to augment waning traditional pay-TV with added services such as home security and mobile access. But what does 'preferred' mean?

Mitch Wagner

January 16, 2018

3 Min Read
Comcast Taps Amazon As 'Preferred' Cloud Provider

Comcast has named Amazon Web Services as the cable company's "preferred" cloud provider, according to a statement from the two companies Tuesday.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will expand use of Amazon Web Services Inc. by migrating workloads and building new applications on the Amazon cloud, according to the two companies' statement.

Comcast is using the cloud to build products and services including its X1 Platform voice control and Xfinity xFi personalized WiFi to help customers control home networks. And Comcast's primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal, are running workloads on AWS for greater agility, the companies say. (See Comcast Unlocks xFi-Powered Smart Home.)

The pay-TV industry is getting hit hard by the cord-cutting trend, and Comcast is feeling the pain. Comcast lost 118,000 customers through the first nine months of 2017, and was predicted to lose an additional 40,000 customers in the fourth quarter. Traditional pay-TV services are losing ground to over-the-top (OTT) providers such as Netflix (another marquee Amazon customer), Hulu, and Sling TV. (See Cord-Cutting: How Far Will It Go? .)

Figure 1: A Comcast truck services a Philadelphia customer. Photo by Thekohser (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons A Comcast truck services a Philadelphia customer. Photo by Thekohser (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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To build out its business, Comcast is branching out into broadband, smart TV offerings like its X1 Platform, as well as business services.

In addition to cord-cutting, Comcast cited pressure from traditional rivals as significant reasons for losing 134,000 residential subscribers in the third quarter last year, its biggest quarterly loss in recent memory. But revenue grew 4.2% to $5.8 billion, due to higher prices, income from a major pay-per-view boxing event, and customers adding new video services. Overall cable revenue was up 5.1% to $13.2 billion. (See Comcast Not Immune to Pay-TV Declines.)

On the third-quarter earnings call, Comcast executives said the cable company looks to broadband and pay-TV to build relationships with consumers, and then add to that foundation with new offerings, including home security, mobile access and more. Bundling and adding new options is the strategy that Comcast believes will make it resilient and profitable over the long term.

In other words, Comcast is looking to transform its business -- an ideal situation for cloud migration, as the cloud frees up IT resources to reduce hassling with operations and maintenance and focus again on innovation.

But getting back to Comcast's AWS deal: Big question here is what the heck does "preferred" mean? Is Comcast actually giving AWS special treatment, or is this just like winning a participation trophy in Little League? We've got queries out to both companies.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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