Rumor: TW Cable Talking With LightSquared

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is in talks to provide mobile Internet services on LightSquared 's Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Bloomberg, which based its report on "two people familiar with the situation," notes that a deal between the two is not guaranteed. A TW Cable spokesman declined to comment on the rumor.

A tie-up with TW Cable, and potentially with other MSOs, would fit well with LightSquared's partnership strategy, which includes deals with big-box retailer Best Buy Co. and Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), announced this week at CTIA .

Why this matters
This deal would call into serious question TW Cable's long-term standing with Clearwire. It would also further loosen the MSO's connections with Clearwire's majority owner, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Last year, TW Cable set about plans to sever its VoIP relationship with Sprint and take the service entirely in-house. (See Time Warner Cable to 'Go It Alone' With VoIP .)

TW Cable, a Clearwire investor, has never expressed unhappiness with the partnership publicly, but offering WiMax service hasn't exactly been a barn burner for the MSO. In the fourth quarter, TW Cable reported having just 15,000 WiMax subscribers. (See TW Cable Has 15,000 WiMax Subs .)

You also can't ignore AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. . Before that deal was put into play, it was speculated that MSOs that own Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum might swap that capacity to T-Mobile in exchange for cheap wireless access rates and possibly an ownership stake. With that option now off the table, the cable guys might be testing that same idea with LightSquared, a startup that intends to have 100 million Americans covered by its 4G wholesale network by the end of 2012. (See Cable Could Lose Wireless Bargaining Chip, Sprint Plans to Fight the AT&T/T-Mobile Deal and AT&T to Acquire T-Mobile for $39B.)

For more
For recent news about LightSquared as a historic glance at cable's wireless ambitions, please check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:09:29 PM
re: Rumor: TW Cable Talking With LightSquared

If TWC is indeed talking to Lightsquared, it would seem that Clearwire's other MSO partners (Comcast and Bright House) might consider doing the same.  And they all have that AWS spectrum to put into the middle.  Or do they end up working with both sides -- Clearwire and Lightsquared -- and take advantage if Clearwire decides to make a big move to LTE? Or does that just make things too complicated operationally and technically?  JB

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