Adding a page to its broadband-centric game plan, Cable One has made "small" investments in two fixed wireless companies to help the cable operator beam broadband services to nearby areas that are out of reach of its cable networks and also don't justify the costs of a network buildout.
Cable One recently closed investments in two wireless ISPs to help it extend a bridge to neighborhoods that are in close proximity to the cable op's geographic footprint, Steven Cochran, Cable One's SVP and CFO, said Monday on the company's first-quarter earnings call.
Cable One, which has rebranded as Sparklight, has not disclosed the names of the fixed wireless companies it has invested in, but it's possible that they will be revealed in documents filed with the SEC in the coming weeks.
"We are agnostic on the technology that will deliver broadband into rural America," said Julie Laulis, Cable One's president and CEO. "We consider [broadband] our space, so we'll do whatever it takes to bring people the connectivity that they need."
Cochran said Cable One has no intention of adding satellite broadband to its tech arsenal but noted that the operator is particularly keen on using point-to-point fixed wireless technology to reach low-density areas where it's not economical to build a wired network.
"That leaves the opportunity to still provide those customers that surround our communities with a technology that still provides a broadband-level service," Cochran said, noting that Cable One has been pursuing this idea by deploying the technology itself in a handful of markets alongside making investments in companies that are already in the wireless ISP game.
Laulis also signaled that Cable One would have some interest in upcoming spectrum auctions to aid its wireless strategy. Among the auctions coming up, the FCC plans to start one for the 3.5GHz CBRS band on July 23, and its auction for 280MHz of spectrum in the C-Band remain is still on track for December 2020.
It faces an uphill climb, but Viasat is exploring a plan to build 300 low-earth orbit satellites that could deliver low-latency broadband service and qualify for the US Rural Digital Opportunities Fund.
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