Comcast President: ‘We know how to compete against fiber’

Comcast President Mike Cavanaugh shared on Monday his thoughts on broadband’s competitive landscape. While he stressed the market is “very competitive right now” as fiber deployments grow, he thinks Comcast is well-positioned to handle the competition.

“We’re very focused on the key competitor over the long term being fiber,” Cavanaugh said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “The good news is we’ve competed against fiber for 20 years, we know how to compete against [it].”

He estimated fiber currently covers around half of Comcast’s footprint and “now it’s probably heading towards 60%” and will “probably keep going.”

What’s driving the current competitive landscape, Cavanaugh went on to say, is “low move activity” and “the entry of fixed wireless.” He noted it’s difficult to say “which one is more significant.”

Cavanaugh predicts fixed wireless access (FWA) will “run for a while,” but said Comcast believes FWA providers are mainly targeting the lower end of the market, “serving a purpose for folks that can live with a product that has its characteristics.”

“But as time passes and more activity is driven over the internet and average usage [continues to drive higher], I think we’ll see the opportunity to pull some of that market back to compete effectively,” he said, pointing out the average Comcast customer is using “700 gigs” of data per month.

That’s not to say FWA won’t have a permanent fixture in the broadband market in the future. But Cavanaugh thinks “at some point…the excess capacity that’s being used up to provide it as a service will start to tap out.”

Then, the ability to “deliver incremental data is going to be a big advantage.”

Comcast this fall began rolling out its symmetrical multi-gig cable service, touting it was the first operator in the world to start DOCSIS 4.0 deployments.

“We’re continuing to focus on the long game,” Cavanaugh said. “Compete against fiber well over the long term, get our network to DOCSIS 4.0, continue to add more value around the key service, whether that’s Xumo, Flex, you name it, and ultimately bundle with our wireless product.”