‘Lease to buy’ association permits Comcast a window to reclaim the airwaves
Comcast is feeling so assured about its skill to utilize the CBRS band for cellular 5G companies that it’s prepared to let its 600 MHz licenses go, in a $3.3 billion spectrum “lease-to-purchase” settlement with T-Cellular US.
“Our 5G community area exams with CBRS spectrum have exceeded our expectations and we’ve discovered the band to be extremely environment friendly and a major a part of a 5G community. This sturdy CBRS spectrum efficiency has made us notice that we’re unlikely to wish the 600 MHz spectrum licenses that we at present maintain to help our wi-fi clients,” wrote Tom Nagel, Comcast’s SVP of wi-fi technique, in a weblog submit. “Because of this, we not too long ago entered into an settlement with T-Cellular by which it is going to lease and ultimately buy our licenses within the 600 MHz band.
Comcast has seen important progress in its client and enterprise wi-fi subscriber base over current years, including greater than six million wi-fi strains in six years to create what Nagel referred to as “a profitable multi-billion-dollar income enterprise with an extended runway for future progress.”
He additionally identified that about 90% of Comcast’s cellular clients’ knowledge utilization comes by way of Wi-Fi, relatively than mobile. “Internet hosting most of our clients’ cellular knowledge visitors on our personal Wi-Fi community creates important financial savings and permits us to proceed to supply aggressive pricing,” he wrote.
Nonetheless, Comcast has lengthy had an eye fixed on cellular mobile capabilities and as a part of its exploration of placing collectively a 5G community, it purchased CBRS precedence entry licenses (PALs) in addition to some airwaves within the 600 MHz band. The spectrum is simply now being put into stay buyer utilization: Comcast has been conducting CBRS exams with its staff, however this month, Philadelphia clients of its Xfinity Cellular and Comcast Enterprise Cellular companies will begin connecting to a brand new, Comcast 5G community for the primary time, as RCR reported right here. Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of the corporate, stated in remarks at Goldman Sachs Communicopia + Tech convention stated that Comcast has calculated that 60% of its community visitors comes from simply 3% of its geography.
The outcomes that Comcast has been seeing from its CBRS testing have been spectacular sufficient that the corporate is prepared to promote its 600 MHz block—a single, 10-megahertz license in most markets, Nagel stated—to T-Cellular US. It will likely be a gradual course of, the place T-Cellular US is first ready to make use of the spectrum and can make quarterly lease funds accordingly, on the finish of the leasing association, will probably be in a position to buy the license for $3.3 billion. That’s not anticipated to occur till 2028, and Comcast additionally has an choice constructed into the association that can permit it to carry onto the spectrum in some markets if it adjustments its thoughts within the meantime.
“T-Cellular is already a person of 600 MHz spectrum, so it is smart for us to enter into this ‘lease to buy’ association in order that they will put this spectrum to make use of briefly order,” Nagel wrote. Comcast, he stated, will proceed to check using 600 MHz in Philly, and “if our perspective adjustments, we’ve secured the choice to reclaim the 600 MHz spectrum inside our markets, giving us wonderful optionality if we’d like it sooner or later.”
Whereas Comcast is beginning with its utilization of 5G CBRS in Philadelphia, Nagel added that the association is “one which we might deploy to different markets the place it makes good enterprise sense.”