Feeds

Revived cableco alliance could save Xohm...

...and Sprint

Boost IT visibility and business value

Interest in Xohm

For Sprint, cableco interest in Xohm would have short term as well as strategic benefits. As well as boosting its potential position in the telecoms balance of power, and possibly putting new life into Pivot, the cable operators could provide the hard dollars needed to resurrect the eminently sensible idea of joining forces with Clearwire to create a united front and a network genuinely capable of challenging the majors' LTE and convergence plans.

Since the original joint venture deal foundered amid Sprint's decline, the departure of Forsee and the crisis of confidence in Xohm at the Sprint board, both sides have made it clear they are still interested in the alliance – but it needs external funding, with both Sprint and Clearwire being forced to cut back their own capex intentions because of market and competitive conditions.

Intel was widely rumored to be interested, but its history suggests that - while it has a strong motivation for keeping Xohm and Clearwire, and therefore the hopes for WiMAX in the US, alive – it will balk at investing more than a token few million dollars.

Google has also been a popular focus of speculation but, like Intel, prefers to be a kingmaker than a sugar daddy, lending marketing and software weight rather than hard cash.

By contrast, recent reports in the Wall Street Journal suggest the three cablecos are willing to invest a collective $1.6bn in the wireless venture, close to the $2bn Sprint is said to be targeting (Comcast is said to be the lead investor in the proposal, offering about $1bn, followed by Time Warner on $500m and privately held Bright House on $200m, with Intel and possibly Google also putting in smaller amounts).

For the cablecos, this would be only a modest capital commitment to gain an advanced national wireless network and a measure of control and ownership in that – better than just a wholesale deal, but stopping short of full investment in individual or shared new networks, something the operators have considered, but which has met with negative response from nervous shareholders.

The only one of the four original Sprint cable partners that may go it alone and build its own network is Cox, having won 22 licenses in the 700MHz auction. Time Warner and Comcast led a group called SpectrumCo in buying licenses in the AWS band in the 2006 auction, but have since seemed to go cold on using these for direct build-out, Comcast in particular focusing more on partnerships and access-agnostic services.

However, the cablecos have been getting increasingly vocal about the need to offer a quad play in competition with the telcos, with shareholders nervous that they miss this boat. In December Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said his company had "no intention of building the fifth cellular network," but said it would view partnerships and investments in 4G-related systems favorably, though only "as an offensive move".

Copyright © 2008, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.