- What is WiMax really worth to Comcast?
Is it possible that not enough attention is being paid to the dollar amount of discount that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is offering for its combination of WiMax and wireline services? In its initial format for the Portland, Ore., market, Comcast is offering a 12-Mbit/s home service and the Clearwire-backed mobile WiMax service for just $50 a month -- about 7 bucks more than you would pay for just the cable-modem service alone. Or about the same you would pay Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) for a mobile-services contract, depending on which bells and whistles you choose.
So why is the cable giant setting itself up as Clearwire's BFF, paying the balance of a cable customer's WiMax bill for at least the first year? It's all about customer retention: According to Comcast's earnings announcement, average monthly revenue for each video customer is now $115.27. If it seems expensive to subsidize a wireless add-on, you have to compare it to how much it costs Comcast to lose that monthly revenue, PLUS how much it costs them (guesstimate $100-$200 per) to find and sign a new customer to replace the lost one. All of a sudden, the WiMax subsidy starts looking cheaper and cheaper.
And don't forget -- Comcast isn't just a Clearwire partner, it's part owner -- so in essence some of the subsidy is just Comcast paying itself. And if a cheap WiMax plan also keeps Comcast's video customers from even considering a 3G netbook from a competing telco, it's another reason to sign up as many WiMax users as Comcast can.
- Is the Chrome OS Google's contribution to the WiMax ecosystem?
Amidst all the buzz about Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s news of its plans to (finally!) compete head-on in the operating system arena, we're surprised nobody made the connection to this being a perfect platform for WiMax-enabled devices. Call us biased, but the timing is right -- 2010 should see a lot more WiMax markets online, so why not a cheap, fast, cloud-based netbook that uses WiMax for access?
GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham wonders, "Can Google convince carriers, which aren’t big fans of the search giant, that selling netbooks with Chrome OS is the way to go? Most analysts expect carriers to become a huge distribution channel for netbooks." Remember -- just like Comcast and Intel, Google is already part owner of a carrier, due to its investment in Clearwire. Seems like a good place to start, no?
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