As predicted, U.S. tier-2 and tier-3 cable operators appear to be following Comcast and Charter Communications into the MVNO-based wireless business.
The wireless industry analyst who has dubbed this smaller MSO grouping as “junior cable,” Wave7 Research’s Jeff Moore, just noticed that the term “Mediacom Mobile” has been trademarked by Mediacom Communications, the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator.
“Junior cable will be a big story for 2023,” Moore tweeted Friday (opens in new tab). “Smaller cable companies are launching wireless MVNOs [mobile virtual network operators] in an effort to lock down their customers. ‘Mediacom Mobile‘ has been trademarked. Mediacom Mobile launch details are not yet clear. Cox Mobile launch details are completely clear.”
Indeed, privately held Cox Communications, the nation’s third-largest MSO, officially launched Cox Mobile at CES two weeks ago, using the same mobile virtual network operator partner (Verizon) and go-to-market strategies already successfully deployed by Comcast and Charter.
No. 4 operator Altice USA launched Optimum Mobile in 2019.
Now, here come the smaller operators, who are also looking to duplicate the strategy of offering customers low-priced mobile plans that piggyback on established wireless networks, mixing in plenty of support from their own Wi-Fi networks. WideOpenWest, for example, is reportedly working with the National Cable Technology Cooperative to hash out an MVNO deal.
For its part, Mediacom hasn't released any details as to how advanced — or even tangible — its wireless progression is.
Speaking to FierceWireless, Moore said a lot of stuff has to be worked out beyond finding an MVNO partner — including backend operations — before a cable mobile operation can be launched.
However, with T-Mobile and Verizon signing up nearly 3.2 million customers to inexpensive fixed wireless access home internet in the last 18 months, a countermove into the wireless turf allows MSOs to better lock up their existing customers.
“When I look at the big picture, the cable companies are losing a great number of subscribers to T-Mobile and Verizon as those companies ramp up their wireless home internet capabilities," Moore told Fierce. "So to me, gaining a mobile capability is all about locking down the churn, locking down the number of subscribers that are currently with the cable companies." ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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