Comcast is planning fixed and mobile wireless trials in Philadelphia using spectrum in the 3650-3700 MHz band, according to a news report from Mobile World Live based on a Comcast FCC filing. The possibility of a Comcast fixed wireless offering is a new development. The company’s current wireless offering, dubbed Xfinity Mobile, is a mobile service.
Comcast will be testing three different types of prototype radio transmitters, including rooftop-mounted base stations located at current and former cellsites, according to Mobile World Live. Trials also will include three kinds of mobile test devices and commercially-available handsets, including a Mi-Fi device, according to the report.
News of the Comcast trial comes as the FCC considers various options for incorporating the 3650-3700 MHz band into a broader citizens band radio service (CBRS) band that would also include spectrum between 3550-3650 MHz. At issue are the geographic size of license areas and license periods.
Whatever the FCC decides, however, a critical requirement for the CBRS band will be a spectrum access system to control which of three user types – incumbent military users, licensees and unlicensed users — can use the spectrum in a specific area. One of the goals of the Comcast trials, according to Mobile World Live, will be to evaluate propagation, data throughput, and interference with a spectrum access system.
Some other network operators also have been evaluating the use of a CBRS band spectrum access system.
Comcast Fixed Wireless
A Comcast fixed wireless offering might be a way of enabling the company to reach households outside its traditional cable service footprint. Or the company may just want to gain a deeper understanding of fixed wireless as more and more companies roll out fixed wireless services.
On the mobile side, Comcast may be interested in the CBRS band as a means of augmenting its Xfinity Mobile offering – a mobile offering designed to rely on the company’s own Wi-Fi infrastructure as much as possible and to default to cellular service purchased on a wholesale basis from Verizon only when Wi-Fi is not a viable option. If so, the next question would be whether the cableco is interested in using the CBRS band on a licensed or unlicensed basis.