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January 12, 2017

Legere, Malone Critique MSOs' Mobile Strategies

Mobile is where it’s at; yet, interestingly, the nation’s large cable TV companies don’t have cellular networks. But that could soon change, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone recently suggested.

Speaking at a Lions Gate investor event, Malone reportedly commented that the three largest U.S. cablecos – Charter, Comcast, and Cox Communications – could and perhaps should purchase T-Mobile U.S. This kind of combination may be more feasible once President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Malone added.

The three MSOs declined to comment to Bloomberg, which first reported the story.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a keynote speech at CES this month commented that the Charter and Comcast plans to sell cellular and Wi-Fi services based on Verizon assets will “fail horribly.” That’s because this will be expensive and won’t enable the cablecos to offer unlimited plans, he said. Meanwhile, Legere added, T-Mobile will cut the price of its unlimited plan to remain competitive.

The cellular relationship between Comcast and Verizon took shape late in 2015 when the cablecos notified the cellular carrier of its intention to invoke its mobile virtual network operator rights under a previous wireless spectrum sale, Mike Farrell of Multichannel News reported in October of 2015. He explained that option stemmed from the 2011 sale of wireless licenses owned by SpectrumCo, a consortium of Bright House Networks, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

The importance of cellular communications continues to grow. According to CTIA, 48 percent of U.S. households today are wireless only. Video traffic on our networks is growing at a rapid clip, and 61 percent of mobile traffic comes from video; that will be 77 percent by 2020, the CTIA forecasts. And mobility revenues are poised to grow from $1.5 trillion last year to more than $1.7 trillion in 2020. In terms of cellular networks, more than 93 percent of Americans have more than four wireless provider choices.

Edited by Alicia Young

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