Time Warner Cable is negotiating with LightSquared on a wholesale LTE deal, according to Bloomberg. Time Warner currently resells Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX service under the Road Runner Mobile brand. Cablevision is also in discussions withLightSquared about using the venture’s network, according to Bloomberg.
Time Warner Cable, the number two cable operator in the United States, has $550 million invested in Clearwire, while Comcast, the number one provider, has about $1 billion invested in Clearwire. Both also are sitting on a multi-billion investment in AWS spectrum which they are currently not using.
Time Warner said in late January that its WiMAX offering has produced “not very impressive and pretty inconclusive” results, reports Fierce Wireless. The company, which has been reselling Clearwire’s service since December 2009, said it has 15,000 WiMAX subscribers.
LightSquared, a satellite provider which is currently battling GPS opposition to its terrestrial 1.6 GHz frequency band, signed a wholesale deal with Best Buy on Wednesday to have the retailer’s Best Buy Connect service use its LTE network and earlier this week signed an LTE roaming deal with Cricket provider Leap Wireless.
LightSquared needs to cover 100 million POPs by the end of 2012, 145 million by the end of 2013 and 260 million by the end of 2015 to meet FCC requirements.
Harbinger needs someone with lots of towers to provide terrestrial coverage. MetroPCS (with 8 million subs), and Leap Wireless (with 4.5 million subs) seem to compliment each other. US Cellular, with about 6 million subs, has very little AWS spectrum. Still, a major cellular provider like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint would give the satellite operator truly nationwide terrestrial coverage.
A combined MetroPCS (with 8 million subs), and Leap Wireless (with 4.5 million subs) results in an operator with 12 million subs. Meanwhile, both Time/Warner and Comcast paid $2.4 billion for AWS spectrum they aren’t using.
Perhaps T/W and Comcast could be a virtual mobile phone operator, much like Virgin Mobile. Cable operators are sitting of piles of dough, and might help bring Leap and MetroPCS together at the table with their own nationwide AWS spectrum as an inducement for an agreement.
Any deal between cable, satellite and phone companies would have to pass muster with the FTC and the FCC, of course, but creating a strong third competitor would be the pitch. Adding Sprint and Clearwire’s 2.6 GHz spectrum into the calculation, however, complicates things.
The US cellular industry desperately needs 4G clarity. Perhaps satellite telephony will be a niche that can’t effectively be scratched. How will it shake out? Who knows.
My suggestion: the Feds ought to provide first responders with a 10 year lease to use Lightsquared. Let the 700 MHz auction proceed. Give half the proceeds of the TV auction to first responders for terrestrial buildout and provide 60 MHz of “free” spectrum for municipalities. Let Clearwire, cable and mobile operators develop their own 4G solutions. Let satellite telephony be satellite telephony. Amen.
Time Warner Cable is in a dispute with several big media companies over whether it can beam live TV channels to Apple’s iPads.
Time Warner Cable’s iPad app includes a lineup of 32 live channels that the cable-service provider carries on traditional TV. Those channels include MTV, Discovery Channel and Food Network, among others.
Media executives say they have “not granted iPad video streaming rights to any distributor.” Time Warner Cable believes its app sidesteps the need for additional rights, since it is not available “free”, and users must be cable subscribers.
LightSquared launched SkyTerra 1 in mid November, 2010. It uses the 1.6 GHz band. Harbinger’s 4G terrestrial network hopes to provide coverage in the United State to at least 100 million people by Dec. 30, 2012.
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