x
Optical/IP

Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) will end their wholesale deal with Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) in the wake of the cable operators' new deal with Verizon Wireless , which includes the sale of wireless spectrum and an array of service and product components. (See MSOs Sell AWS Spectrum to Verizon for $3.6B .)

Both MSOs plan to stop selling Clearwire service to subscribers in about six months. Not that there are many subs to speak of. Comcast has about 30,000 to go along with Time Warner Cable's 27,000. Clearwire ended the third quarter with 9.5 million subs, mostly coming way of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Clearwire's expected to reach the 10 million mark by year's end. (See Sprint Keeps Clearwire (& Unlimited) Alive.)

Comcast "will stop marketing its Xfinity 2Go product in six months and develop an orderly plan for transition" as it takes steps to wind down Comcast's Clearwire customers, an MSO spokesman said.

Update: Comcast told Light Reading Cable late Friday that the decision also factors in Xfinity 2Go's 3G products, not just Clearwire's WiMax products. "We will wind down the customers on the Sprint/Clearwire 3G/4G data cards within the next six months," the MSO said.

A TW Cable spokesman noted that its wireless offering "can become exclusive to Verizon in as soon as six months," but expects to continue to service its remaining Clearwire customers after that time.

Bright House Networks , another Clearwire investor and participant in the SpectrumCo LLC joint venture that struck the new deal with Verizon Wireless on Friday, has not launched Clearwire services.

Despite the decision to sever the wholesale relationship, Comcast's, TW Cable's and Bright House's stakes in Clearwire remain intact. Clearwire declined to comment.

The MSOs are expected to begin selling Verizon services sometime in 2012, and offer that as an option for their existing Clearwire customers. A person close to the deal says Comcast intends to announce four test markets with Verizon Wireless next year.

MVNO timing and tech J.V. tidbits
The SpectrumCo MSOs (Comcast, Bright House and TW Cable) have the option to pursue an MVNO deal that would let them offer their own branded services (including voice, data and texting) on the Verizon Wireless network. Comcast Cable President Neil Smit noted in a blog post Friday that his company could pursue the MVNO option in about four years.

In the meantime, there's an agency deal in place that will let Comcast sell Verizon Wireless products with its triple-, double- and single-play service packages, while also allowing Verizon Wireless to sell Comcast products at its stores and other sales channels. That's expected to ramp up starting in 2012.

Also tied in is an "innovation technology joint venture" to be 50 percent owned by the Comcast, TW Cable and Bright House Networks, and 50 percent owned by Verizon Wireless. Comcast said that Sam Schwartz, president of Comcast Converged Products, will lead the venture's strategic development, with Tony Heyman, the recently named vice president of new market development at Verizon Wireless, heading up operations and distribution.

The unit will also have the ability to license products and services to other cable and satellite service providers.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:47:23 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

I'd like to get the cost per mile of that drive. Gotta be one of the most profitable demos ever.


Based on history, do you ever think that wireless will matter to the cablecos? They don't seem to have a clue as to how to make it useful and profitable.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:47:23 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

I'd like to get the cost per mile of that drive. Gotta be one of the most profitable demos ever.


Based on history, do you ever think that wireless will matter to the cablecos? They don't seem to have a clue as to how to make it useful and profitable.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:47:23 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

I apologize for the poor video quality but this video from last year's CTIA show is kind of priceless... skip ahead to the :43 second mark to hear Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse talk about how the cablecos will use WiMAX to deliver wireless video.


I guess, not so much anymore. Someday, somebody is going to have to explain to me how exactly Ben Wolff and Clearwire convinced Comcast to give them a billion bucks. Or better yet, I want Ben to negotiate my next contract... with anyone.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:47:23 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

I apologize for the poor video quality but this video from last year's CTIA show is kind of priceless... skip ahead to the :43 second mark to hear Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse talk about how the cablecos will use WiMAX to deliver wireless video.


I guess, not so much anymore. Someday, somebody is going to have to explain to me how exactly Ben Wolff and Clearwire convinced Comcast to give them a billion bucks. Or better yet, I want Ben to negotiate my next contract... with anyone.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:47:23 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

I think you already had part of that answer...  This over-simplifies it, but Brian Roberts was impressed by a  WiMax demo that beamed video to a car travelling down the road.  So a kick-ass demo helps, or maybe gets you part way to $1B. JB

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:47:22 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

It will certainly go down in infamy. I think wireless has mattered and weighed on the minds of the cable guys for a long time, but the execution and reliance on partnerships has been horrible. I realize that the MVNO piece of this is a take it or leave it "option," but I could see them taking that one on since it does give them , or at least Comcast, four years to make that decision while they do all this co-marketing and co-selling of services between them and get this "innovation" project off the ground. 


  Maybe that's enough time to get all the backoffice pieces together and working properly so that it's not a half-baked thing like Pivot was and cable can come out with a wireless product that's much more tightly integrated, even if they don't own the network.  I also think the cable guys are going to get super-aggressive with WiFi and that will be tightly coupled with this too. So cautiously optimistic that they can make this work, but they've fooled me before. JB


 


 


 

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:47:22 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

Basically this is what happens when you try to have a 3rd big wireless company (sorry T-mobile and Sprint but lets get real) without the requisite investment to make such a network.  People sitting around in offices going:  How do we do this on the cheap?


seven


 

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:47:21 PM
re: Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales

One thing I noticed missing from the high level points of the deal was a discussion about the usefulness of the cable company's transport networks for Verizon Wireless backhaul uses.


In many markets, Verizon does not own the back haul facilty.  They must lease from local incumbents for either copper or fiber backhaul.  (or of course they sometimes do wireless microwave backhaul... usually over licensed spectrum so they have to lease the wireless back haul service in many cases as some one owns the license [see Fiber Tower for business model example of such a provider or broker]).


With the upcoming waves of small cells (pico, femto, micro cells all are needed to supply the RF bandwidth demands of a global 4G rollout), it is becoming clear to most industry experts that solving backhaul for this increased density of cell sites is one of the bigger challenges facing the industry.  


It seems to me that the cable companies have transport capacity that would be a good solution for Verizon Wireless backhaul needs.  Both for existing macro cells where Verizon must lease backhaul from a competitor who is the local LEC and for roll out of future small cells of all sizes.  for femto's located in the home, in many cases, the cableco has already broadband there.  For pico cells and micro cells deployed in mass in metro areas to fill in coverage, the cable co's also have business class bandwidth deployed to many of the required locations.


It would be interesting to see a series of articles focused on what this deal could mean to backhaul.  Especially since LR itself has been recently doing several webinars on 4g and backhaul.  Verizon could save a lot of recurring costs if they could leverage a great deal on the cable company's networks for backhaul application.  Would also open up some new platform sales for hardware OEM's looking to exploit this application space.


sailboat

HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE