New Coalition to Lobby for More Unlicensed Spectrum

A new coalition formed to push the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to release more unlicensed spectrum, called WifiForward, includes cable companies Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, Google and Microsoft.

Notably, WifiForward does not include the largest U.S, telcos, for reasons you will understand. 

Mobile service providers, for a couple of reasons, prefer licensed spectrum. They can control quality, for example. But it also is obvious that licensing provides the highest "scarcity" value, creating better conditions for monetizing spectrum and also preventing other competitors from using that spectrum to compete.

Applications providers prefer unlicensed spectrum since they are users of networks based on spectrum, not providers of services earning revenue based on the access. Unlicensed spectrum makes Internet access more available, at lower cost, than otherwise would be the case.

Cable operators also have reasons for wanting more unlicensed spectrum released. Though cable operators have tried for decades to create an independent role in the mobility business, U.S. cable companies essentially have abandoned the effort. 

Instead, cable companies hope Wi-Fi will be a way to enter the untethered communications business without having to create full mobile assets of their own. 

In essence, cable companies continue to hope that untethered communications will create new revenue opportunities for them, both as retailers of service and suppliers of wholesale capacity.


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