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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...
Image via CrunchBase

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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Telecom Industry Launches Technical Advisory Group to Solve Net Neutrality Issues

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 –In response to the recent Third Way announcement made by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a group of internet service providers, content creators and hardware makers have joined to form a working group to discuss the issues surrounding network neutrality. This new organization called the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group will be headed by Professor Dale Hatfield of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Professor Hatfield was the chief technologist at the FCC from 1997 to 2000.

The organization will have three main goals “(1) educating policymakers on such technical issues; (2) attempting to address specific technical matters in an effort to minimize related policy disputes; and (3) serving as a sounding board for new ideas and network management practices.”

By including a large share of the stakeholders, the organization hopes to be able to come to a consensus which it can then bring to either the FCC or Congress.  “This joint effort by industry leaders provides an exciting opportunity to address key operational challenges facing the Internet user experience,” said Leslie Daigle, chief internet technical officer of the Internet Society.  “The Internet Society believes this activity is an important contribution to the ongoing global, open technical dialog and looks forward to seeing its output appropriately integrated with the work of existing Internet standards activities.”

The organization plans to function as a neutral party which only discusses the technical practices used by the industry. “The BITAG would consider a number of factors in looking at technical practices, including whether a practice is used by others in the industry; whether alternative technical approaches are available; the impact of a technical practice on other entities; and whether a technical practice is aimed at specific content, applications or companies,” Hatfield said.

Currently the organization has representatives from AT&T, Cisco Systems, Comcast Corporation, DISH Network, EchoStar, Google, Intel, Level 3 Communications, Microsoft, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. While the organization does represent a number of interests there is currently no user or consumer group which has joined BITAG.

In a post on the official AT&T Blog, Vice President Brent Olson said of the group: “While there is more work to be done over the coming weeks to formalize the group, we are proud to be a participant in its formation.  This effort demonstrates the interdependence of all players and their mutual interest in and desire for innovation in the internet platform.  We look forward to working collaboratively with all participants to ensure its success.”

The media advocacy organization Free Press was pleased by the creation of BITAG they do believe that ultimately the issue needs to be solved by the FCC. “There must be a separate FCC rulemaking process, which can take the recommendations of this or any other voluntary advisory group into account, but rubber-stamping those recommendations would ignore the agency’s mandate to create public policy in the public interest. Allowing industry to set its own rules is like allowing BP to regulate its drilling. The Comcast BitTorrent case shows that without government oversight, Internet Service Providers will engage in what are already deemed by engineers to be bad practices” said Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley.

BITAG member Google also believes that the group is just an advisory group and will not set rules. “Further, the purpose of the BITAG is not to replace the oversight and enforcement authority of the FCC or any other government body. Rather, we hope the BITAG can bring together some of the smartest technical minds in this space to provide some useful guidance to policymakers and Internet stakeholders alike,” said Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel.

Intellectual Property Breakfast Club Featured Clash of Views Between Broadcasters and Cable Companies

in Broadband TV/Copyright/Intellectual Property by

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2010 – BroadbandBreakfast.com on Friday released, for FREE, the full-length video of the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club event on May 18, 2010: “New Transmission Consent Battles and Licensing Video Content.”

The event included key industry officials from the cable, broadcast and public interest communities, and was moderated by Sarah Lai Stirland, Assistant Managing Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com.

The panelists included:

  • Antoinette C. Bush, Partner, Communications and Legislative Matters, Skadden Arps
  • Michael Calabrese, Vice President, New America Foundation
  • Chad E. Gutstein, Executive Vice President, Ovation
  • John K. Hane, Counsel, Communications Practice Group, Pillsbury
  • Fernando Laguarda, Vice President, External Affairs and Policy Counselor, Time Warner Cable
  • Matt Polka, President & CEO, American Cable Association

The event is available on BroadbandBreakfast.com at the following link.

Don’t miss the next Intellectual Property Breakfast Club on Tuesday, July 13, 2010: “The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Treaty. ” Registration is available at http://ipbreakfast.eventbrite.com; and the next Broadband Breakfast Club, on Tuesday, June 15, 2010, “Challenges to Rural Broadband Adoption.”

The Intellectual Property Breakfast Club is sponsored by the Intel Corporation, the Public Knowledge, and Time Warner Cable.

For further information about sponsorship, contact sylvia@broadbandcensus.com, or call 646-262-4630. The Broadband Breakfast Club is Copyright © Broadband Census News LLC.

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