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A few days ago, we got word that T-Mobile was buying some spectrum from Comcast that they weren’t planning to use. The company won the spectrum in an auction a few years ago, but then thought it over and figured out that actually, it didn’t really need a lot of spectrum, and thus entered an agreement with T-Mobile.

It turns out, however, that we shouldn’t mistake Comcast’s intentions to sell off this spectrum as a sign that the company is not willing to compete in the wireless market. In fact, it’s saying quite the opposite.

The company has formally announced its plans to launch its mobile network to expand coverage for Xfinity Mobile and Comcast Business Mobile customers, starting in Philadelphia.

With nearly 6 million wireless subscribers, Comcast views its mobile business as a crucial component of its bundle, offering competitive deals that combine wireless with broadband and video services. The move into proprietary network operations allows Comcast to differentiate itself from traditional carriers and offer enhanced 5G coverage, potentially competing with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in the mobile space.

As it is now, Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile functions as a “Mobile Virtual Network Operator”, or MVNO, using Verizon’s towers. With this new move, Comcast would actually be looking to pull away from this deal and get its very own network going.

To start, the company plans to utilize Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, which differs from licensed airwaves used by competitors. CBRS is shared by multiple users, including the U.S. Navy, with safeguards against interference. This mid-band spectrum operates at frequencies of 3550 MHz and 3700 MHz, offering a balance between speed and range.

Comcast’s foray into the 5G realm extends beyond its proprietary network. The company, alongside AT&T, has joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab, a group fostering businesses and applications harnessing 5G technology. This expansion into 5G technology demonstrates Comcast’s evolution beyond traditional cable TV, embracing the opportunities presented by the rapid adoption of 5G wireless technology.

We’re definitely excited to see where this journey takes Comcast, and whether “the big three” manage to become “the big four”. Then again, maybe Dish will beat them to it.

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