Comcast Testing Small Cells – Sources

Comcast, already heavily into WiFi, is believed to be testing mobile small cells but its overall wireless future is unclear after the untimely demise of its 4G venture with Verizon.

Verizon Wireless revealed last week that its wireless deal with three US cable operators has been terminated. Comcast had been using Verizon as cellular connectivity for its Xfinity service. (See Verizon, MSOs Kill Wireless JV and Comcast Unveils High-Speed Wireless Gateway.)

Vendors at the Ethernet & SDN Expo and MobileCON trade shows told Light Reading that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has been testing small cells (so these conversations took place before the Verizon news became public knowledge).

Comcast, however, won't confirm any work with small cells. "This is something that we are not discussing at this time," a spokeswoman for the company told us.

In fact, the operator isn't saying anything about future wireless plans right now either. "That is something that I cannot confirm or discuss," the spokeswoman said when asked about role of wireless in Comcast's plans.

Meanwhile, it remains clear that Comcast is big on WiFi. The cable giant has now installed at least 60,000 hotspots across the US. (See Comcast Spreads WiFi Love.)

Comcast Ventures has also backed various wireless infrastructure startups, with Benu Networks LLC its most recent wireless-related investment. (See Mobile Startups Grab $555M VC in September.)

Startup Benu describes itself as a company that "provides fixed and mobile operators with innovative solutions for augmenting their networks with small cells and WiFi." (See Comcast, Moto Invest in CMAP Startup.)

So while the future is uncertain for Comcast's wireless ambitions, it's clear that the MSO still has some mobile irons in the fire.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 10/28/2013 | 10:46:40 AM
Re: Ericsson Interesting, thanks!
SCDAS 10/26/2013 | 3:34:50 PM
Re: Ericsson Ericsson is not ready until new year (probably Q2) in any meaningful way.  If Comcast is demoing with VZ/on VZ's spectrum, then they are using an ALU radio.  If they are using someone else's spectrum, I would still think it is 50/50 they are using ALU.
DanJones 10/26/2013 | 3:29:04 PM
Re: Ericsson What's your reasoning?
SCDAS 10/26/2013 | 3:15:30 PM
Re: Ericsson An educated bet would be ALU
DanJones 10/25/2013 | 2:49:00 PM
A big week for small cells? Samsung said to rolling out indoor and outdoor small cells to Sprint:

DanJones 10/25/2013 | 10:37:30 AM
Re: Two guys farting about If that's so they've been relatively comprehensive in their farting about. I know they've been checking out NIDS for powering the small cells on lamp post deployments.
pdonegan67 10/25/2013 | 8:49:28 AM
Two guys farting about I've got money says there's just one Comcast guy - okay maybe two - farting around in their labs with a handful of bits of free small cell kit they've managed to eke out of friendly vendors. Maybe, just maybe, they've managed to assemble a small trial of some kind.

Playing with them, testing them, seeing what they do, wondering how to pitch them to the grown ups in network planning or business development - the ones who get all pedantic about "business case" and "P&L", and wondering whether they'll even get a hearing. 

These one or two guys must be reading this article and all these comments and thinking "Oh wow! Is that me (us) ? Awesome !!!!"

There's very little here for LTE small cell equipment vendors to get excited about, not where the public access or metro environment is concerned anyway.

The LTE small cell deployments that succeed in the metro or public access environment will be characterized by two criteria. First, one or more licensed mobile operators will be driving the selection of the small cell equipment to ensure alignment with their requirements.

Second, the exact location of the LTE small cell will be driven first and foremost by how best the LTE small cell can support the mobile operator's macro layer rather than how easily pre-existing Wi-Fi AP footprints or indeed pre-existing backhaul infrastructure can be re-used.

No doubt Comcast will have a role of some kind in the LTE small cell market. But where small cell equipment vendors are concerned, all roads in the public access/metro LTE small cell market lead to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Or all real roads, at any rate.
Sarah Thomas 10/24/2013 | 3:46:36 PM
Re: Ericsson Well, it's not Cisco. Just spoke with Jared Headley, Cisco's head of service provider mobility marketing, who says, "I can't comment, but I will tell you, it's not us." Well, so he can comment. :) But, it sounds like they're working with Comcast, just not on small cells.
DanJones 10/24/2013 | 12:01:37 PM
Re: Ericsson Good point, Alan, Mari, any ideas on gear vendors for Comcast?
MordyK 10/24/2013 | 11:57:52 AM
Re: Ericsson I'm not one to follow Cable that closely so I don't know and making something up would be foolish on my part.

I would ask Mari or Alan seeing how they keep tabs on the sector.
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