Comcast has revealed some of their WiMAX strategy. They plan to aggressively use femtocell technology to deliver seamless mobility services to residential subscribers, and expect to achieve 8 Mbps in throughput. The Clearwire partnership which Comcast and other cable companies invested in will set aside 5 Mhz of spectrum for femtocells. Femtocells create a mini wireless base station (or cell tower) in the home and can route wireless voice calls and data sessions originating on mobile and portable devices through it. The goal is to provide better in home wireless coverage for mobile devices, thus offering wireless voice services that can conceivably rival Comcast’s wireline IP voice service. Comcast sees femtocells as a key wireless strategy for them, because their customer base is primarily residential customers. Light Reading’s Cable Digital News revealed the Comcast femtocell strategy. Dave Williams, Comcast’s senior VP for wireless and technology was quoted in the Light Reading article as saying, “We’ll be pushing WiMax femtocells because we have a good customer base in the home — we sell HDTV, VOIP, and high-speed Internet connectivity. We want to take that experience in the home and add mobility.”
The revelation is a peak into an interesting competitive development. Comcast and their WiMAX cable brethren intend to maximize their Clearwire investment to offer a suite of wireless services that they hope will rival their telecom competitors. By using femtocells, in theory at least, they can leverage their own broadband network with Clearwire and create a mobility experience that won’t falter once a subscriber enters their home. By so doing, Comcast can now offer seamless mobility, in and out of the home, and also appeal to customers who want to (or already have) cut the wireline cord and aren’t interested in a traditional triple play service. The service is a long way off. The femtocells will need to go through the WiMAX certification process, which could take months or even years.