The cable companies have tried to make inroads in wireless before (remember Pivot, the joint venture among Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Sprint?). And now they are trying to offer wireless services again, but with a different tactic. Time Warner and Comcast have launched wireless services in a handful of markets as wholesale providers of Clearwire's WiMAX service. Currently, Time Warner offers its Road Runner Mobile service starting at $39.99 per month for customers who already have one of the MSOs other services. But the bundles climb to as high as $79.95 per month depending on the type of bundle.
Likewise, Comcast lets subscribers add its mobile WiMAX High Speed2Go service to their existing wireline Internet access for an additional $49.99 per month.
Meanwhile, Cox is building its own wireless network using spectrum it purchased during recent FCC spectrum auctions. But as a prelude to that, the company is testing wireless service using Sprint Nextel's EVDO network in three markets: Hampton Roads, Va., Omaha, Neb., and Orange County, Calif. The company has not provided pricing details yet.
For the cable companies to win in wireless, they are going to have to rapidly increase their footprint and come up with some compelling price plans. But we still think that the real key for the cable companies to score in wireless is the additional services they need to bring to differentiate their wireless offering. We've always thought the cable companies were well positioned to add some sort of content or programming to the wireless broadband mix. If, and when, that happens, believe we will see more traction in wireless from the cablecos. In the meantime, we expect 2010 to be a year where the cable companies increase their wireless footprint and experiment with bundled price plans.