Comcast, Charter cooperation on wireless could lead to so much more


We’re going to say it before anyone else thinks of it, just in case Comcast and Charter turn out to have the audacity to take a shot at it. Why don’t they plot to bring down and acquire Verizon, not T-Mobile US?

That’s right we’ll more or less come right out and say it. Comcast and Charter partnering on wireless strategy may not have the outcome everybody thinks. You have to think about the timeline to see it. Instead of working together starting to build momentum in wireless and then buying either Sprint or T-Mobile to sit at the foot of the US cellular tree. They may well find that their MVNO partner Verizon is doing so poorly that they can in fact partner together to acquire it in 18 month to two years from now.

Were the $180 billion valuation of Comcast to rise and the $100 billion valuation of Charter also, then they would dwarf the target Verizon valuation, especially if it lost 10% to 15% over the com-ing year or so.

While the financial community cannot see what’s right in front of them, i.e. that fixed lines are a rising tide, and wireless is about to go commodity, all the talk has been about Verizon buying Charter. Faultline Online Reporter said at the time that this was non-sense, and the statement surrounding the wireless agreement now confirms it.

Neither party is to look at wireless acquisitions or disposals for at least a year, certainly nothing larger than $200 million and neither is supposed to enter any kind of wireless partnership, unless they both enter one together. They certainly cannot talk about selling or buying anything with any of the national cellular operators as their side agreement signed this week prohibits it.

Note this does not mean they cannot buy smaller local operators as they join the party to get into wireless rollups.

But the key things are the areas where they will partner, common billing and operating platforms, technical standards development and harmonization, handset and tablet device life cycle manage-ment, logistics and emerging wireless technology platforms. This is like CableLabs in wireless. Think of it as WirelessLabs. It may end up as a major contributor in future technology generations such as 5G, and it could even rival the guidance that the 3GPP brings to global wireless at some future point.

Comcast has traditionally cooperated with Time Warner Cable – for instance RDK came out of a cooperation between them. So, this is really extending what has been an even closer relationship between them that the one they have with CableLabs, and ex-tending it to wireless.

Faultline Online Reporter has been saying for some years, as we have followed the creation of 16 million Homespots by Comcast, anticipating a WiFi First style cellular service, that all of cable, be-cause of its lack of overbuilding, may join up under the same brand to take on the large US MNOs with one major cellular operator.

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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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