In a discussion involving the people responsible for wireless strategies at America’s largest cable companies, one thing was clear – there is no single path they are taking to deliver wireless. Cathy Avgiris of Comcast, John Bickham of Cablevision, Stephen Bye from Cox Communications, Frank Miller of Bend Broadband, and Mike Roudi from Time Warner Cable spoke today at The Cable Show in Los Angeles, on the panel “Spectrum of Possibility: Technology & Strategy for the Business of Wireless Communications.”
While most noted the agreement between industry players Sprint and Clearwire to provide mobile outside their service areas, there were differing business plans on display. Stephen Bye noted Cox Communications plans to build its own wireless network using current 3G technology, but also noted the ease of upgrading to LTE in the longer term. That approach puts Cox at odds with most of the other operators.
Comcast’s Avgiris, for instance, noted the different approach cable operators had taken to telephony years ago. Rather than try to develop a circuit-switched network, many cable operators began pursuing a VoIP solution that would allow them to be competitive without high upfront costs.
Similarly, Avgiris said companies like Comcast and Time Warner are looking at Wi-Fi networks and dual mode smartphones to deliver their wireless offerings.
Cablevision’s Bickham discussed the deployment of their Optimum WiFi service in the New York area (see this earlier post), and the agreement between Time Warner, Comcast, and Cablevision to allow Wi-Fi roaming across each others’ networks (see this Multichannel News article).
All agreed that wireless would be a key part of the bundle of services offered by cable operators, but most spoke to the consumer benefits of that. It’s no longer about bundling services just to save money, it’s about the experience. When customers can use their mobile device as a gateway and player for their home based services, that becomes a powerful driver for consumer interaction.