Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 22 2011   11:25PM GMT

Hope for Clearwire: Sprint desperately seeking cable partners

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

It looks like there may be some hope for Clearwire; Sprint is said to be seeking cable partners to help fund a buyout of the firm. There’s some logic to this move, I think, because with mobile becoming the hottest spot in all of networking, the cable MSOs are generally without a mobile property. Cable operators need a mobile strategy that will let them into the game without each of them building out private mobile infrastructure.

The question is whether ganging up on a single solution for mobile is an answer. The cable companies are competitors in the major metro areas, and thus it’s hard to see them playing nice in the mobile space. The biggest problem would be the integration of TV-Everywhere content with mobile delivery when potentially several competitors in a given market have different rights under different terms.

The rumor is that Sprint would establish itself and Clearwire as a host for MSO MVNO relationships and that they would all deploy their own rights management layer on top. But what about the CDN space? CDNs for mobile service would be expected to require deep caching that’s tightly coupled to the backhaul network to optimize utilization and Quality of Experience.

Does that mean one shared CDN or would every MSO have to deploy its own? It’s hard to see how the latter would work, but also hard to see how they’d keep fairness in the first option, or even decide what “fair” meant. Weighted access based on cable customers, mobile customers, or what?

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