It has been rumored for quite some time that cable operators were looking to get into wireless at some point, and create a new revenue stream for themselves. Well earlier this month, Comcast and Charter both announced that they would be launching their own wireless service in 2017. Both companies would be using Verizon's network, in combination with their own WiFi hotspots around the country, to provide wireless service to their users. Now, analysts at MoffettNathanson seem to believe that the cable operators are going to be the ones that win in wireless, above the existing wireless operators.
The reason is pretty simple. As wireless carriers continue to densify their network with small transmitters like small cells, they are going to need a wired backhaul to keep things going. That's where cable providers like Comcast and Charter already have a leg up. Their wired network is among the densest networks available. MoffettNathanson stated in their research note that the "distinction between wired and wireless networks will disappear; in ten years, we won't talk about 'wireless' and 'cable' networks, there will simply be 'the network'. They went on to say that cable operators will be in the "wireless business whether they like it or not" continuing with the fact that becoming a wireless network will be a "necessity" for these cable providers.
MoffettNathanson also thinks that cable will win in wireless, and stated that they already won in broadband. Which is true, but let's not forget that AT&T and Verizon are also cable providers (although Verizon only offers their FiOS TV in very few markets, compared to AT&T). So this could turn out to be a pretty impressive fight between the wireless providers and cable companies. The biggest issue that Comcast and Charter are going to have when they launch their MVNO's is persuading customers to sign up for their service. Will they add better value than what Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile already has? Of course, they can bundle it with other services like TV and home internet, but the real question will be whether that is enough. 2017 appears to be another big year for the wireless industry, with a couple new big players entering the game.