Editor’s note: Cable giant Comcast’s expanding challenge for Internet of Things network business will be mostly heard by telecom heavyweights in the space such as AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone, says Technology Business Research Analyst Daniel Callahan.
HAMPTON, N.H. – After trialing IoT networks in Philadelphia and San Francisco in October 2016, and shortly after expanding to Chicago, Comcast announced a sizeable expansion of its IoT coverage in July 2017, adding 12 metro regions: Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Denver; Detroit; Indianapolis; Miami; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Comcast is leveraging low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) technology named LoRa for its IoT ambitions. LoRa, which leverages unlicensed spectrum, tends to be more open than licensed spectrum or technology from other LPWAN competitors such as SigFox, and has a strong uptake by customers in industrial IoT.
Comcast’s challenge will be mostly heard by telecom heavyweights in the space such as AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone. Not only is it circumventing licensed spectrum, but Comcast also has relationships with cities as well as right-of-way access and existing infrastructure — all of these being the telecom heavyweights’ lynchpins in their IoT go-to-market. T
ie this with Comcast’s ability to throw its weight around, including investing in new infrastructure and sales and marketing, and the commercial IoT connectivity space becomes more crowded and uncertain for telecom heavyweights and smaller disruptors, such as SigFox, Senet and Ingenu.
Due to Comcast’s infrastructure and metro targeting, the vendor will be targeting, again, the telecom honeypots of the smart city and utility market. This is further evidenced by Comcast’s partnerships with companies such as Flashnet and Trimble focused on smart street lighting and water management, respectively.
TBR believes Comcast also has its sights set on healthcare and automotive, but AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone have the advantage in those markets, with their licensed 4G and coming 5G networks for when people leave the metro grid — a health tracker that no longer works while the consumer is on vacation is not attractive.
The introduction of its IoT networks was a necessary step for Comcast, which needed a path to evolve from a dumb pipe into a service provider as the market began to evolve around commercial IoT.
Without machineQ, TBR believes vertical customers may have strayed from Comcast Business Services to connectivity vendors that were able to layer on more value through more advanced technology, services and vertical expertise in connecting machines and building IoT solutions.
However, despite the threat to traditional telecom vendors, the battle is far from over. Vendors such as Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone have a head start in trialing with clients, building critical infrastructure, developing solutions and generally figuring out what works.