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T-Mobile (TMUS) just paid $8 billion during the recent wireless spectrum auctions to catch up to AT&T (T) Mobility, Verizon (VZ) Wireless and Sprint (S). In fact, Comcast (CMCSA) acquired $1.7 billion worth of spectrum. Dish (DISH) was also a player and acquired spectrum. So, will this investment put these companies in a direct competitive battle with today’s wireless leaders? What can we expect in wireless going forward?
The wireless industry is beginning its next major reinvention. This transformation will affect every carrier, every handset maker and every user. New competitors are entering the wireless space and the industry is continuing to grow and expand in new and different ways.
Google (GOOGL) Project Fi is an MVNO that sells their own handset and started during the last year or so. Comcast just held a press conference last week outlining their upcoming move back into wireless after failing at their first attempt several years ago. I’m hoping this time will be more successful.
AT&T DirecTV NOW, Wireless TV, Mobile TV Changed Everything
Last time it was not just Comcast who failed, but other cable television companies including Time Warner Cable and Cox. Last time when they got out of wireless, they pooled their spectrum together into a company called SpectrumCo, and sold it to Verizon Wireless. They were done with wireless.
Then a funny thing happened. Suddenly, new competitive pressures started increasing. Suddenly AT&T acquired DirecTV and created DirecTV NOW and wireless TV or mobile TV. Suddenly this is becoming a real threat to the traditional cable TV operators and others.
In fact, this is also posing a real competitive threat to Verizon as well. They too are exploring ways to expand their presence in television, mobile TV or wireless TV going forward. In fact, there were many other companies who tried and failed in wireless. You remember companies like Facebook and Amazon Fire Phone. Will they try once again?
AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Have Plenty of Wireless Spectrum
What about Dish Network? During this last spectrum auction I understand why T-Mobile and Comcast needed spectrum. But why does Dish? They acquired spectrum before and never used it. Will anything be different this time? Is Dish planning a move into wireless? A partnership with a wireless player? An acquisition? Who knows. So, let’s keep our eyes on them.
Suddenly the wireless marketplace is changing and every company needs to focus on wireless going forward. Suddenly every competitor in television, wireless and Internet sees the same threat and opportunity. They realize they can’t just sit back and expect to hang onto market share. They realize they need to be dynamic competitor in this new space. This is forcing the companies back into wireless, ready or not.
Comcast Xfinity Mobile, Dish, Charter Make Wireless Move
With that said, continue to expect other new entries into the wireless arena. Companies like Charter Spectrum (CHTR) and who knows, maybe Amazon.com (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) will give it another try. I also expect other companies to enter the space. Wireless will get very business with more competitors going forward.
Wireless, television and the Internet are all coming together. New technology like AI, the cloud and more are also part of what will become a huge transformation over the next decade and longer.
With all this said, keep your eyes on exciting industry leaders. Expect lots of change and transformation. Also keep your eyes on new players and new ideas and thinking in this space. There will be plenty. The next wave of change has begun, and I only expect it to intensify going forward.
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 [email protected]. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan