Jeff Kagan: What’s Next for Comcast Xfinity Mobile as 5G Approaches

Jeff Kagan  |

It has been a year and a half since Comcast entered the wireless industry with their Xfinity Mobile service. They are new to wireless and so far, seem to be doing quite well in the space. Charter entered a few months ago with their Spectrum Mobile service. Altice Mobile is coming next year. So, the next question is how will 5G impact these cable TV companies?

Wireless is a fast-changing industry. That’s nothing new… wireless is always changing. Moving from analog to digital in the 1990’s. Moving from 2G to 3G to 4G and now to 5G. The iPhone and Android entered and redefined the entire industry over the last decade. Apps exploded from a few hundred to well over two million in the marketplace today.

5G will redefine wireless, pay TV and every other industry

The next big transformation in the wireless industry is 5G. We are hearing quite a bit about this from AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. This is turning into a loud and raucous race to be first. However, we have not been hearing about 5G from the cable television industry. Will we?

5G will not only redefine the wireless industry over the next couple years as did previous upgrades. However, this will also impact every other industry as well. Surprised? Let me explain.

I believe one of the industries that will be impacted by 5G is pay TV. I expect 5G wireless pay TV will grow rapidly and impact and redefine the traditional television industry.

In fact, the traditional cable TV industry has already been under pressure of change from new competitors and new technology for more than a decade. Consider the entry of AT&T DirecTV NOW, Verizon FiOS, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and so many other new players.

As 5G wireless comes during the next year, we will see an entirely new competitive slice of the pie come into existence. 5G wireless pay TV could grow rapidly from quite a few large and small competitors. The question is how large and how quickly this new slice will grow to.

Today, the pay TV signal is mostly delivered over cable TV or over the Internet using IPTV. Although AT&T DirecTV NOW did start the mobile TV segment in the last couple years with the 4G network. This new slice of the pie will be delivered wirelessly using 5G and that, I believe will cause a sudden increase in competition.

Many competitors will enter 5G wireless pay TV space

I see competition growing in this space. That means the nations large wireless carriers could enter the pay TV space and deliver it over their wireless networks. That also means other competitors could offer a competitive pay TV version as well by reselling wireless. That also means new competitors will pop up out of nowhere.

What I see happening in the next few years is a potential mad dash for wireless 5G pay TV from a variety of competitors. That is both exciting and terrifying depending who you are talking to.

The next questions I have is, how will todays pay TV leaders react and respond? Will the traditional cable TV and IPTV providers also get into this new wireless TV business? I predict some will and others will not.

How will Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile react in 5G world?

I believe, the first wireless 5G pay TV will come to market starting sometime next year. So, 2019 is the starting gun. That new competition will grow, and technology will improve as time passes.

That’s a challenge to existing pay TV players, both cable TV and IPTV. So, should they act first and lead the charge into this new field, or should they wait?

As always, there will be both in the early stages. It is an opportunity and a threat for every competitor in the space, new and old, large and small. And today there simply are no real answers yet.

What we do know is the effort will be made and the pay TV and wireless world are coming together. And the next few years will be chaotic and loud.

5G is challenge and opportunity to wireless and pay TV competitors

This is both a challenge and opportunity for both pay TV and for wireless. Cable TV companies that offer wireless like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile have a decision to make. What will their strategy be? Will they be part of the coming 5G revolution, or will they sit this first wave out?

That’s the choice every cable TV operator faces today. They can either stay with the growth wave or let it pass. If they ride the change wave, they will continue to grow. If they don’t, the wave will move on ahead without them. Typically, this is a problem.

However, cable TV in wireless takes a different path to date and that has been successful so far. Today, Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile don’t really advertise and market in the same was AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint do. They take a different strategy. They don’t lead, but they still meet their goals of stabilizing their customer base.

They let the major wireless competitors hammer away at each other and teach the marketplace. They just sell wireless smartphones and services in that world. And this seems to be working for them.

If that’s the case, it is quite possible they could stay on the same path when the industry shifts to 5G. They could let the major wireless carriers educate the marketplace and get users all lathered up and hungry for 5G services.

Then they could simply offer 5G smartphones and services and continue winning market share as they have been doing to date.

So, perhaps 5G will not be as big a challenge to the cable television competitors after all.

However, it is important to have a deep understanding of the changes that are about to take place in both wireless and pay TV with the coming 5G technology. How will wireless pay TV impact traditional TV operations? There are still so many questions and so few answers at this point in time.

Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile stabilize customer base

To date, I have been impressed with the success of Comcast with their Xfinity Mobile wireless service. Looking at them, I expect when Charter starts to talk about their activity with Spectrum Mobile, I will also be impressed. Then next year with Altice Mobile as well.

With that said, 5G is coming and this is an important issue that needs to be debated by every executive in both the wireless and pay TV industries. Changes will occur in both industries. It’s vital for every executive to stay on top of this industrywide transformation.

5G will not only transform wireless, but it will also transform every other industry, like pay TV.

The next few years will be very interesting to watch the direction every competitor takes. So, will cable TV make a dramatic change to their strategy or will they stay on the same track? Who knows. We will keep our eyes open, so stay tuned.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

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