Comcast Could Be Your Next Mobile Provider

Mari Silbey
News Analysis
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Lest anyone still had doubts, Comcast has confirmed its mobile ambitions with the formation of a new mobile business division headed by long-time Comcast executive Greg Butz. A report of the new business arrangement was first published by Multichannel News and has since been confirmed by Comcast.

The fact that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is formalizing its commitment to mobile services is equivalent to the company drawing up a big "Telcos Beware" sign. While Comcast has built out a substantial WiFi network in recent years, it still doesn't come close to offering the level of wireless coverage that any of the major carriers can deliver. That said, the cable company has been putting the right assets in place to expand its wireless footprint radically.

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First, Comcast has activated its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). (See Comcast Confirms It Will Activate MVNO Deal.)

Second, it has committed to participating in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's broadcast spectrum auction. (See Comcast May Be Lone MSO Wireless Bidder.)

Third, Comcast has continued to build out more and more fiber to complement and strengthen its already widespread hybrid fiber-coaxial last-mile infrastructure. The possible purchase of Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) assets would further support that network growth and position Comcast well for supporting future 5G mobile services. As Light Reading Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre points out, fixed broadband networks are critical for 5G development and deployment. (See Is Level 3 Boarding the M&A Train? and Beware the Bottleneck! Why 5G Is Driving an Ultra-Broadband Boom.)

Analyst Francis McInerney of North River Ventures may have said it best when addressing a wireless crowd back in April: "If you aren't thinking about Comcast, leave this industry." (See Analysts More Than Bullish on Comcast MVNO.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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