Cable Track at the WBA

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This week I have the pleasure to attend the WBA Wireless Global Congress in New York City where I will be moderating a couple of interesting panels. In my opinion, the WBA is the best event covering the convergence of licensed and unlicensed technologies including Wi-Fi.

1st Panel:Indoor/Outdoor Consumer Mobile solutions 

Areas covered during the panel include:

  • Roadmap and technological evolution for Wi-Fi, Small cell, 5G
  • Policy and regulatory environment for mobile MSOs solutions
  • Legal implications and business model
  • City and utility applications

Today, cable television companies are competing with telephone companies like AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink. They are also competing with mobile wireless competitors like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint with their new MVNO services.

The cable industry has seen some huge acquisitions over the years. Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House last year was worth over $65 billion, but this was just one of a series of consolidations in the market. Liberty Global paying $13 billion for a majority stake in Dutch cable provider Ziggo in 2014, and Vodafone buying Spanish cable company Ono for $10 billion are further examples of consolidation.

There has also been talk of further acquisitions, with Verizon rumored to be interested in buying Charter, Charter rumored to be interested in buying Cox Communications, Altice USA could be buying any number of smaller regional cable companies, and Comcast joining forces with Charter to acquire T-Mobile.

MSO mobility

Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile has garnered more than 250,000 since its launch five months ago. And the company is hoping to leverage the upcoming release of Apple’s iPhone X to entice more users to sign on. However,  the wireless service is available only to the company’s existing subscribers while Sprint does MVNO with Altice. Charter Communications reiterated plans to launch wireless service in the first half of next year, but the company clearly has its eyes on being more than just another MVNO. Charter hopes to use 3.5 GHz spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use.

Panelists: 

  • Craig Cowden, SVP Wireless Technology at Charter
  • Mark Poletti – Director Wireless Network Technologies at CableLabs
  • Madhavan Suresh -Leading IOT ecosystem development for machineQ at Comcast
  • Angela Logothetis – VP and Head of CTO for Amdocs Open Network

2nd Panel: Wireless Enterprise Services Opportunities

Areas covered during the panel include:

  • Managed Wi-Fi for SMB
  • Large / high-density venues – neutral host
  • Applications & biz models  for new technologies like CBRS, MulteFire

Wireless for the enterprise is seeing the emergence of new business models enabled by technology and spectrum innovation. On one hand Wi-Fi as a service is expanding beyond the traditional SMB market to larger organizations thanks to a more agile cloud offering. On the other hand spectrum sharing enables smaller venues to take their destiny in their own hands.

All eyes are on the 3.5 GHz band as it makes its way to the market. The band offers both licensed and unlicensed options via a spectrum-sharing architecture, and it could pave the way for new and unique business models for both wireless carriers and new market entrants.

Cable operators need access to unlicensed mobile LTE to avoid paying an arm and a leg for MVNO data.  Venues can deploy CBRS small cells at a fraction of the cost per square foot of DAS. Enterprises have a long list of ideas ranging from autonomous machines to security cameras, where operator-based LTE would be too expensive but a private CBRS LTE solution is cheap and reliable.

Each venue has its own characteristics. For example, it does not make economic sense to deploy small cells for 4 different carriers in the same venue. It makes more economical sense to share one single infrastructure amongst those four carriers. In fact, venue owners are increasingly willing to fund part of the network cost as they see the value of a better-connected building or venue.

With the emergence of CBRS and spectrum sharing, small cells will become a viable choice in smaller venues and buildings because CBRS takes advantage of free unlicensed spectrum using LTE technologies such as MulteFire.

Panelists: 

  • Christian Nascimento – Executive Director Premise Services at Comcast Business
  • Anthony Paladino – VP of Strategic Partnerships at Mojo Networks
  • Luther Smith – Principal Engineer at CableLabs

More details about the event at http://www.wirelessglobalcongress.com/ 

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