MoffetNathanson's Craig Moffet asked Charter CEO Tom Rutledge if cable operators will inevitably have to spend big bucks on fiber deployments to stay competitive in the broadband business. Rutledge said, “We have a lot of fiber in our network, and it’s really a question of where do you end the fiber, and what technology do you use to maximize the connectivity with the end device?” He noted that even a fiber feed directly to a house doesn’t deliver fiber to a device. What delivers connectivity to a device is actually Wi-Fi in most cases.
It’s long been a saying in telecommunications that “all wireless networks end in a wire.” But Charter CEO Tom Rutledge recently emphasized that point. Both Charter and Comcast have been making good headway with their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) businesses, seeing substantial subscribers adds in recent quarters. And the CEOs of both companies have consistently said that they see their MVNO businesses as a way to offer more choice for their broadband customers. But perhaps their mindset is starting to evolve a bit, where they’re seeing real profit possibilities in wireless.
AST SpaceMobile has been granted an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission to conduct US-based testing of its BlueWalker 3 satellite. The company launched its first satellite in March 2019, and it plans to launch its second satellite, BlueWalker 3, summer 2022. AST Space Mobile, based in Midland (TX), plans to build the first space-based cellular broadband network designed to be accessible directly by standard mobile phones.
The biggest story in tech this week is without a doubt Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion and to take the company private. And while that deal doesn’t touch directly on wireless or wired telecom networks, there are some connections related to the Federal Communications Commission, spectrum and telecom policy. First, no one is suggesting that the deal won’t happen. New Street Research policy analyst Blair Levin said there aren’t any big antitrust issues. It would be different if a social media competitor, such as Meta, were trying to buy Twitter.
T-Mobile leases much of its 2.5 GHz spectrum from educational institutions around the country. And the carrier has made great efforts to keep the terms of these Educational Broadband Service (EBS) leases private. For instance, it is engaged in a dispute with Christian College of Georgia and demands that the college not reveal the terms of its lease.
Steven Berry, CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, said smaller carriers are happy, along with everyone else, that billions of dollars of government funding will be poured into closing the digital divide. But he stressed that bringing fiber to rural areas is not the same as bringing mobile. “Fiber to the home is not mobile,” said Berry. “The Biden administration is going to spend $42.5 billion on fiber to the home. Great.
The upcoming Auction 108 of 2.5 GHz spectrum is likely not going to raise a ton of money. But at least it will clean up the spectrum band, closing the many gaps where the spectrum is lying fallow and not being used at all. The auction will begin on July 29, 2022. While some auctions, such as the C-band auction held in 2021, aim to make billions of dollars to fill federal coffers, not all auctions are strictly focused on profit.
The Federal Communications Commission announced that July 29, 2022, will be the start of bidding in Auction 108 for 2.5 GHz licenses. This auction will be for “white-spaces” of the 2.5 GHz band where no one owns the spectrum. T-Mobile is particularly interested in Auction 108 because it already owns or leases much of the 2.5 GHz spectrum across the United States, and it wants to fill in the gaps in its coverage. The auction will offer about 8,000 new county-based overlay licenses.
T-Mobile is using its considerable legal muscle to try and prevent the terms of its 2.5 GHz spectrum leases from being revealed. This is particularly newsworthy right now because the Federal Communications Commission recently announced it would kick off the process for its Auction 108 in July 2022. Auction 108 is the auction of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the “white-space” gaps in the band that are currently lying fallow.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that the company’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service runs on “the best network.” Roberts was referring to the fact that Xfinity Wireless rides on Verizon’s network due to a wholesale agreement between the two companies. Roberts bragged that Comcast and Verizon recently updated their agreement to make improvements. The wholesale agreement specifies that Comcast can use its Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum to offload mobile traffic from Verizon’s network.