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Cable’s move into Mobile: Calculated and Deliberate

in Expert Opinion/Mobile Broadband/Wireless by
Image representing Clearwire as depicted in Cr...
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If you believe Cable Operators are not thinking about Mobile Networks and what kind of synergies could bring them increased cash-flow in the future, then you’ve probably missed the obvious signs laid out since 2008.

Strategic Partnerships

Starting with their investment in Clearwire in 2008, companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House have upped their anti in wireless and mobile strategies. Other companies with investments in Clearwire include Sprint, Intel and Google. This is not an idle investment by the cable community; it is a strategy to combat the increasing competition in Northeast markets by telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T with Quad-Play capabilities. This competition will eventually spread to other regions as increased investment opportunities present themselves.

With the Quad-Play on the table as an option for customer superiority within the most profitable and populated markets as the Northeast, not having a 4-play strategy just doesn’t make good business sense. Fast forward to today and one can see these scenarios’ playing out as Verizon’s FIOS and Verizon Wireless bundle along with AT&T’s U-Verse and AT&T Wireless services are nipping at cable’s heels for supremacy.

Mobile Strategy

The mobile strategy for cable operators may simply involve current economics. It is quite obvious that creating strategic partnerships with companies like Clearwire and Sprint is a quick and easy way to deliver the mobile market on a selective basis while not having to invest needed capital in a start-up entry. In point, if a partnership gets the job done and allows you to stave off your competitors, and only where there is Quad-Play competition; it relates to both cheaper and faster to market economics. See (Reality Check: Now is the Time for Cable Quad Play)

Mobile Back-Haul Revenue

An additional revenue generator for cable operators is the mobile back-haul market. As mobile operators continue to upgrade their networks to 4G, the need to replace existing infrastructure in middle mile and the edge to the cell tower becomes critical, especially with video, apps and increased voice minutes becoming a major players on mobile networks. It is estimated that by 2015 this could become a $3billion per year revenue windfall. “Cable operators like Microwave, fiber and copper vendors will benefit from this concern”. See (Cable Operators will find Success in Mobile Wireless Backhaul a New Visant Strategies Study Finds)

The advent of these partnerships between cable operators, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House with Clearwire and Sprint involves the limited, deliberate, and measured investment into the mobile community while only launching where they need to compete. They are enjoying great cash-flow from video operations, including Digital Cable, VOD, HDTV and DVR’s while bundling Internet and IP Telephone for the Triple-Play, in markets with limited competition. Currently it seems partnerships are the best way to enter the mobile market in a limited way, and at least in the short-term. However, cable should consider expanding those markets for a Quad-Play, or it could lose being first to market and face a catch-up game with potential competitors and find that winning back customers is much harder than being the incumbent.

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Len Grace is a technology industry veteran with over 18 years experience with Comcast Corporation. His insights into pertinent and relevant issues within the Broadband/Telecom/Cable/Wireless and Mobile sectors both inform and enlighten readers on current industry trends, analysis, business strategy, competitive landscape and legislative agendas. Len is the founder & editor of The Cable Pipeline, a technology blog who contributes to various technology websites including Light Reading, BroadbandBreakfast.com (Expert Opinion), SiliconAngle, Cisco Community: Service Provider Mobility, Amdocs: InTouch Community Portal, Bloomberg's bx Business Exchange, CircleID, and Sys-Con Media/Utilizer. Also see his reporting.

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