Report: Comcast seeking wireless tech execs with network, MVNO experience

Comcast is seeking tech executives with wireless experience for key positions in an apparent effort to develop an MVNO offering, according to The Donohue Report.

The news outlet spotted a recent job posting on the company's careers page indicating Comcast hopes to find an executive who would be "responsible for leading the technology trial activities in the lab related to the assessment of various mobile technologies" in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands.

Donohue also pointed to a post seeking a VP of business development strategy with experience in MVNOs and MVNO agreements. That position requires 15 years of relevant experience, Comcast said, as well as familiarity with "major concepts" including mobile networks, VoLTE, Android and iOS.

And the company is also recruiting a mobile network architect for its engineering group, Donohue noted, pointing to yet another job listing.

The nation's largest cable operator has long hinted that it would launch a wireless service, although it has yet to divulge details of what it may be planning. It moved late last year to activate its MVNO agreement with Verizon, which stemmed from the wireless operator's 2011 purchase of AWS-1 spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.

Analysts from New Street Research said last October that they expected Comcast to execute on the Verizon MVNO deal this year with some kind of wireless offering, most likely a Wi-Fi-first service. The service was expected to go to a market trial early this year with a commercial launch to follow, likely in the fall of 2016.

It's also worth noting that Comcast is one of dozens of bidders expecting to participate in the FCC's upcoming incentive auction of 600 MHz airwaves. Just how active the company will be, though, is uncertain: CEO Brian Roberts said earlier this year that it "is taking a paddle" during the auction but is only considering acquiring spectrum that can give it more "strategic flexibility" rather than aggressively pursuing a wireless service.

Wi-Fi-first MVNOs have successfully disrupted some overseas markets by offering discount services that access cellular networks only when Wi-Fi connections are unavailable, but they haven't gained much traction in the U.S. despite a small army of MVNOs that have embraced the model.

The fact that Comcast is seeking its own mobile network architect and considering buying spectrum, though, indicates that it may take the Wi-Fi-first model one step further, leveraging its own network infrastructure as well as the networks of a larger operator in an MVNO deal. That strategy, combined with Comcast's deep pockets and considerable subscriber base, could eventually threaten legacy mobile service providers in some U.S. markets.

For more:
- see this Donohue Report story

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