Comcast exec talks fiber expansion strategy, wireless spectrum tests

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Fiber deployments will continue apace over the coming years, Comcast Cable CEO David Watson said. (Comcast)

Comcast Cable CEO David Watson highlighted the company’s efforts to accelerate expansion of its fiber network by focusing on three primary opportunities for new builds. And he noted Comcast plans to ramp testing of offload capabilities for its wireless service later this year.

During a Moffett Nathanson investor conference today, Watson said the company added 2.5 million new residential and commercial passings over the past three years, stating this was a pace it aimed to maintain.

“I think there’s a wide variety of options” for growth, he said. Going forward investors should “look for, I think, just more activity and obviously tied to stimulus opportunities. But we’re going to be there in terms of growth opportunities, for sure. I think the two-and-a-half million is a good roadmap, and we want to continue that over the next handful of years.”

He explained its historic and future growth opportunities were focused in three key categories, including residential, commercial and edge out opportunities.

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Watson said the residential component was largely tied to “housing growth within our footprint,” adding Comcast and others had been “very focused” on pursuing those connections. He said the company has also targeted commercial builds, noting “when you build out in these, often – you know, the office campuses, the office parks – then you have adjacent opportunities to even build out MDUs and other single family homes that perhaps you haven’t gotten to.”

Finally, he spotlighted edge out opportunities in markets adjacent to its existing footprint, stating Comcast was “very focused on that,” and over the past several years has “increased the pace” at which it pursues such expansions.

Wireless

On the wireless front, Watson reiterated the company line that its mobile service is a boon for its broadband business. In addition to helping reduce churn, he said its wireless offer had “energized our sales channels” and provided “a great opportunity to drive consideration of our products in the first place.”

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Looking ahead, Watson said Comcast is in “good position” to compete in the wireless market over the long-term thanks to its spectrum position, noting the 600 MHz airwaves it won at auction in 2017 and its newly acquired 3.5 GHz assets together cover “over 80% of our footprint.”

He added testing of wireless offload using its spectrum assets was already underway with broader trials set to commence “by the end of this year, into next year.”

“It’s unique when you have the spectrum holdings that we have, and being able to have great coverage, high power going out, and being able to have the mid-band capability as well. So we’ll aggressively look at that and be in position for it,” he concluded.