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Comcast Turns on San Francisco Bay Area IoT Network

Comcast’ enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) service, machineQ, has activated a LoRaWAN IoT network in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and now provides coverage in major technology hubs including; Cupertino, Fremont, Hayward, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Oakland, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale.

Using machineQ’s LPWAN service, cities can use information from parking sensors and other connected IoT devices to make data-driven decisions aimed at reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions caused by drivers circling for open parking spaces.

Startups and developers in the region building enterprise-grade IoT solutions can now connect to the cloud using the machineQ IoT network. The machineQ network is built using the LoRaWAN technology protocol, which is quickly becoming a global network standard for IoT and is currently being used by 80+ carriers in 43 countries around the globe. LoRaWAN-based technology delivers advantages over traditional wireless networks – it cuts costs due to lower power requirements, provides long-range coverage, and can penetrate hard to reach places like deep indoor and underground locations.

Santa Rosa, California-based PNI Sensor, a high-accuracy sensor technology company, is on the growing list of companies building solutions for its clients using the machineQ LoRa-based network. PNI’s PlacePod smart parking solution provides accurate, real-time vehicle detection and location of available parking spaces for on-street and off-street public and private parking management.

“Cities utilize real-time parking data from PlacePod smart parking sensors to make it easier for drivers to find parking,” said Robin Stoecker, director of marketing at PNI Sensor. “Using machineQ’s LPWAN service, cities can utilize information from parking sensors and other connected IoT devices to make data-driven decisions aimed at reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions caused by drivers circling for open parking spaces.”

Beyond the San Francisco Bay area, machineQ is deploying its LoRaWAN-based network in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington D.C. in 2018.

Comcast, Charter Announce Mobile Operating Platform Partnership

Comcast and Charter have taken the next step in their slow dance toward possibly creating a wireless union. Last week, the two cable companies formed a 50/50 operating platform partnership focused on the development and design of backend systems that support Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile service.

The new partnership allows the companies to collaborate in the mobile space, while developing their respective mobile brands, products and services. Through the agreement, Charter and Comcast will work together to develop a software platform and backend systems, which will run each company’s mobile-related customer sales and support platforms, device logistics and warehousing and billing. The operating platform developed by the partnership will serve as the systems interface for any future MVNO partners.

The shared-operating platform will primarily consist of elements of Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile platform, which Charter will modify for its mobile product and service platform. However, each company will continue to maintain their own mobile devices, customer service, marketing, sales, pricing and packaging.

It is just short of a year ago that Comcast and Charter, both of whom have MVNO reseller agreements with Verizon Wireless, agreed to explore operational cooperation between their wireless businesses with the intention of developing a nationwide coverage area. Creating common operating platforms was part of that agreement. The companies also planned to look at technical standards development and harmonization; device forward and reverse logistics; and emerging wireless technology platforms.

The companies also pledged to work only together with respect to national mobile network operators for a period of one year. Analysts have predicted that one of them will eventually buy spectrum and become the fifth carrier.

Comcast, Charter Explore Wireless JV

May 9, 2017 —

Regional cable operators, Comcast and Charter, announced yesterday an agreement to explore operational cooperation in their wireless businesses to accelerate and enhance each company’s ability to participate in the national wireless marketplace.

“At Charter, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us in the wireless space,” Tom Rutledge, Chairman and CEO of Charter, said, “Within our footprint, our network is perfectly suited to provide the data-rich wireless services that customers are increasingly demanding.  By working with the team at Comcast, we can not only speed Charter’s entry into the marketplace, it will also enable us to provide more competition and drive costs down for consumers at a similar national scale as current wireless operators.”

The companies, which have each separately activated a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) reseller agreement with Verizon Wireless, have agreed to explore working together in several potential operational areas in the wireless space, including: creating common operating platforms; technical standards development and harmonization; device forward and reverse logistics; and emerging wireless technology platforms.  The efficiencies created are expected to provide more choice, innovative products and competitive prices for customers in each of their respective footprints.

“We’re looking forward to launching Xfinity Mobile to our customers in the coming weeks and are excited about this opportunity to work with Charter to explore ways we can make our respective wireless initiatives more efficient and cost effective,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. “Both of our companies have regional wireless businesses using the same 4G LTE network, and by working together our goal is to create even better experiences for our customers.”

Additionally, the companies have agreed to work only together with respect to national mobile network operators, through potential commercial arrangements, including MVNOs and other material transactions in the wireless industry, for a period of one year.

CableCos Announce Wireless Plans, While Verizon Talks Video

September 29, 2016 —

By J. Sharpe Smith

Senior Editor
AGL eDigest

J. Sharpe Smith

At Goldman Sachs Communacopia 2016 in New York this week, competition was in the air. Cable providers – Comcast and Charter Communications – announced they are getting into wireless as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). And Verizon Communications discussed its plans to get into fixed wireless video.

Charter, which already provides Wi-Fi, has activated its MVNO agreement with Verizon Wireless, according Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter, similar to what Comcast has done.

“We have talked to other MVNOs and internally about how to build out our network capacity, both terrestrially and wirelessly,” Rutledge said. “To get from where we are to true mobility is going to require the use of our Wi-Fi, relationships with MVNOs and the buildout of our network sometime in the near future.”

Rutledge said increasing the penetration of the Charter network, which will soon pass 52 million homes, is the impetus behind the company’s entrance into wireless.

“Five years from now, you will have the traditional cellular as the umbrella and underneath that will be a dense network of small cells: one in every house and business we serve. Currently, there are 25 million non-subscribers in front of our two-way high-capacity network. That universe is our upside. To the extent that mobility can drive the penetration of that segment, that is the ROI.”

Fran Shammo, EVP & CFO of Verizon Communications, told an audience at Communacopia 2016 that he was not concerned about the additional wireless competition and that there will be plenty of growth in the market to handle the new entrants.

“That pie is growing and it’s not only cable companies. If you believe the world is going to be a wireless world, this pie is going to grow and everybody is going to try to figure out how do they get a piece of the pie.” he said. “But for the carriers who exist today that doesn’t mean that their pie shrinks, their pie grows as well and we all grow together.

Shammo’s company has the same idea as Comcast and Charter. Only in reverse. Verizon Communications is going to compete with the cable companies to bring video into homes using 5G-style high-speed, fixed wireless technology.

Verizon’s acquisition of XO Communications gave it 28 GHz spectrum across 40 percent of the United States, according to Shammo, which will give it a head start over other carriers that want to provide fixed wireless. It plans commercial trials in 2017 in different markets testing different manufacturers’ equipment in different models.

“If you look at 5G we’re at the beginning stages. Now, we’re much further ahead than some others,” he said. “So you will see us in cities; you will see us in suburbs; and you will see us in rural areas. Part of the commercial trials is to really test exactly the capability of 5G. How many beams can you deliver to homes? How many homes can you cover with one small cell?”

Shammo said he didn’t think running fiber to every household could ever compete with wireless on price.

“Because now I can deliver a beam into a window with a credit card size receptor on it that delivers it to the wireless router and there’s really no labor involved and there’s no real hardware other than the router and the credit card. So the cost benefit of this is pretty substantial, at least we believe it is,” he said.

In general, 5G technology will be less expensive because it will leverage the same fiber and small cell infrastructure currently being built out for 4G LTE communications, according to Shammo.

“The capital requirement for 5G is not like LTE. It’s not a replacement technology. It actually rides over the same infrastructure, the dark fiber, that is already there,” he said. “When you deploy a 4G small cell, we lay fiber to the small cell. The only incremental change for 5G is we have to add an antenna to that small cell to create the beam.”

Cable to Attempt Wireless Play Once Again

September 20, 2016 — Comcast is working on a plan to make another attempt at being a wireless carrier, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said at Goldman Sachs Communacopia 2016, held today in New York. Possibly sometime in the middle of 2016, a Wi-Fi and an MVNO integrated product will be launched by the cable company.

The plan would have Comcast offering Verizon Wireless service backed by 15 million Wi-Fi hots to its 28 million customers, 70 percent to 80 percent of whom already buy bundled services.

“We exercised our MVNO rights with Verizon Wireless, as many people know,” Roberts said. “We believe there will be a big payback with reduced churn, with more stickiness, with better satisfaction, more product purchasing from us.”

Greg Butz was named president of Comcast Mobile, the newly created unit of Comcast Cable, in July 2016. He joined Comcast in 1993 as director of business development for Comcast Cellular Communications, which Comcast sold to SBC Communications in 1999. He is leading a team of 150 working on the new concern.