It's official. U.S. MSOs Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications have created a wireless joint venture with Sprint Nextel. It's a great move by these MSOs, providing a cost-effective path to integrate mobility into their broadband communications and entertainment service bundles. And, it will energize activity in the cable IP infrastructure arena as MSOs move to upgrade their networks to support SIP, IMS, PacketCable Multimedia and PacketCable 2.0.
Together, the MSOs bring 41 million cable subscribers and 75 million homes passed to the table while Sprint counts 46 million wireless subscribers. The JV has a 20-year term and calls for a combined initial investment of $200 million, half from the MSOs and half from Sprint. The funds will support the development of 'converged services,' as well as national marketing and back office integration initiatives.
The MSOs say this is not a standard MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) deal, as the JV will retain or 'the full economic benefits of the acquired customers.' Each cable company will be responsible for billing customers and for customer service in its territory for the converged offering.
Starting in 2006, the JV will help these MSOs bring a "quadruple play" offering to new co-branded wireless devices that will provide unique features that integrate cable and wireless services. An interactive demo of potential 'quad play' capabilities is available at http://188.8.131.52/. Some features of the cable-mobile experience will include: remote programming of home DVRs via mobile handsets, a single voice mailbox for both home and wireless phones, calling plans with unlimited calls between home phones and wireless devices, unique cable TV programming on mobile devices, and more.
Separately, Time Warner Cable reported solid third-quarter results today as IP phone subscriber additions once again outpaced those for high-speed data. Time Warner boosted its high-speed data adds in Q3 by 10% to 234,000, while IP phone customer additions held steady at 240,000. At the end of Q3, Time Warner counted 4.6 million HSD and 854,000 IP phone customers.
Turning to video, digital video subscribers rose 149,000 to a total of 5.2 million. Digital Video Recorder subscribers climbed 134,000 in the quarter to 1.3 million, representing 24% of digital video customers.