Does Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) signal the creation of a third wireless carrier to compete with the likes of AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ)? Apparently it does if you're Liberty Media Chairman John Malone.
Malone pointed to the deal whereby cable companies TWC, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Bright House Networks and Cox have the option of participating in an MVNO with Verizon Wireless. That was part of cable consortium SpectrumCo's sale of wireless frequencies to Verizon in 2012 for about $3.9 billion.
In a series of meetings about his Liberty companies, the cable magnate noted that Charter was not part of that consortium, although it will be after the TWC deal closes, and entities like that will become more important as more wireless traffic originates on Wi-Fi. Liberty is Charter's largest shareholder.
"The concept that Comcast, a greatly enlarged Charter and Cox could together offer a Wi-Fi-optimized connectivity service with a default to a Verizon MVNO is an interesting concept," Malone said, according to MultiChannel News.
Malone also said the cable industry needs to think more about mobile services, like European operators do. He added that it's no surprise that mobility is happening at a faster pace in Europe than in the U.S. because the U.S. cable business is fragmented and wireless is dominated by two powerful players--Verizon and AT&T.
"My guess would be that the government would be greatly pleased if there was a meaningful third alterative," Malone is quoted as saying.
As for the Time Warner Cable deal, Malone said he believes it will pass regulatory scrutiny mainly because both parties have already been through the wringer with the FCC concerning the failed Comcast-TWC merger.
Charter and Liberty Global were among a list of companies that joined the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) last year. WBA's mission includes enabling Wi-Fi interoperability and roaming.
- see this Multichannel News article
- see FierceCable's take
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