Comcast’s Watson: ‘We’re very confident in our ability to compete’ with 5G

Comcast's Watson Image: Comcast
Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson. (Comcast)

Along with cord cutting and potential near saturation of the U.S. broadband market, Wall Street has also mulled fears of 5G wireless competition as it has steadily downgraded the North American cable market over the last six months. 

Asked during this week’s first quarter earnings call to assess the looming threat of a pending Verizon 5G service, Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson delivered a nuanced response. 

Yes, Comcast is conducting various tests and field trials of 5G services, evaluating its own role in using the technology. At the same time, it views the evolution of its own network as capable of competing against mobile technologies of the future. 

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“Our focus, whether it's Verizon or whoever, is to continue to build out our network,” Watson said (transcript provided by Seeking Alpha). “We’re very focused around broadband. We are going to test opportunities with 5G. But we are not going to stand still. We are going to continue to enhance our network capabilities.”

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Watson said that among the 10% of Comcast broadband customers who are using the most data, these subscribers are using, on average, 20 or more connected devices. 

“It’s a tremendous amount of consumption we have, and I think that’s where the market is going,” Watson said. “There is going to be more consumption, more connected devices, and so our focus is to provide the best in-home solution. And we will see what happens with 5G, but in the current spectrum use, the current way they are looking at it, I’m still very confident of our ability to compete.”

Watson touted Comcast’s recent product innovation in regard to its broadband offering new features such as the xFi Wi-Fi management app.

“Our focus is to innovate,” he said. “Just as we did with X1 [in video], we have really ramped up the ability [of our broadband product], focusing on mesh Wi-Fi, great speeds, and then better control through the xFi app. And so I think when you do all these things, it adds up to just a really compelling value proposition where you can reasonably price and then compete with a superior broadband product.”

During Wednesday’s call, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts declared Comcast a “connectivity company focused on broadband.”

The company matched analysts’ expectations on broadband adds, bringing in an additional 379,000 customers and at least temporarily quieting fears that the wireline broadband business is about to experience a steep drop in growth.