Cable eyes spectrum as telco threat looms

Cable's end game may not just be the triple play of television, telephony and Internet access. Now, with the threat of new telco competition looming, the cable industry is considering the concept of a quadruple play.

Last week, Time Warner's cable division revealed it is considering bidding for government spectrum licenses in June — a move that could lead to the cable industry offering mobile wireless services.

Glenn Britt, the CEO of Time Warner Cable, said his company intends to file a short-form registration with the FCC. Speaking at an investor day conference, Britt said the registration “allows us to bid but does not commit us to bid” on the licenses at an upcoming spectrum auction.

Time Warner is currently part of a wireless consortium with cable competitors Advance/Newhouse Communications, Comcast, Cox and Sprint Nextel. The companies are jointly exploring new business opportunities using wireless technologies. Time Warner Cable has plans to conduct early market tests of a wireless service or product later this year.

The FCC's June auction involves more than 1200 spectrum licenses for advanced wireless services. It should not be confused with the 2008 auction for spectrum in the 700MHz broadcast band (Ch. 52-69).

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