T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter took the stage at a recent JP Morgan investor conference to say that he believes that the recently announced deal between Charter and Comcast to get into the wireless world actually has the potential for serious industry disruption. Carter said that an MVNO deal is akin to simply dipping a toe in the wireless waters, whereas full integration between the networks involved in cable and wireless offerings by one provider could be a "major unlock of value", if handled correctly. According to Carter, this is exactly the sort of power that an MVNO could never hold over the network that they use to get their services to their customers. He also spoke of Comcast's recently debuted XFINITY Mobile and the potential for other services like it to crop up, saying that it is "really silly" to see only the four major players in the US wireless market.
Carter's comments seemingly run counter to rumors that T-Mobile could end up in a merger with a cable company as the two industries begin to converge. These rumors were countered early on with assertions by T-Mobile's CEO John Legere that the major cable companies would not have an easy time getting into wireless, and may well find themselves unhappy with the returns once they're in. While Legere's prediction may come true, the cable companies are just as likely to succeed, and bring serious competition to the big four wireless carriers in the US. With the large amount of spectrum and deep pockets that cable companies hold, Carter's stance isn't difficult to understand.
The deal to work together in wireless was struck by Charter and Comcast back at the beginning of the month. Thus far, nothing seems to have come of it. Seeing the agreement bear fruit could take a substantial amount of time; not only do the two cable companies have to go through the normal refarming and rollout that goes with converting swaths of a network for wireless, but they have to think about integration between each other's networks in order to increase the value proposition of any wireless offerings that they may come up with, such as XFINITY Mobile.