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Comcast Cable CEO: 5G cannot compete at scale with cable broadband

Although top U.S. wireless carriers have touted next-generation 5G wireless technology as a potential new challenger in the home broadband market, a Comcast Corp. executive said he is confident the cable giant can withstand the competition.

Speaking during an industry conference, Comcast Cable CEO and President David Watson said while mobile operators might try to use 5G services to offer broadband services in select areas of the country, Comcast's advantage lies in the robustness of its network.

"We feel like that we're going to be the leader in terms of these rich bandwidth applications going forward," Watson said.

He noted that the average Comcast broadband household uses six or seven connected devices in the home and consumes 200 GB of data per month. By comparison, Comcast's power users — which Watson described as "the leading indicators of where the consumer is going" — on average use 20-plus connected devices in the home and consume 650 GB of data per month.

Watson said this was "100x more" than the average wireless customer's monthly data consumption.

"When you look at the ability at scale to replace broadband, especially where the market's going, and do that effectively and efficiently … from our standpoint, we believe that our broadband business will compete very nicely," the Comcast Cable CEO said.

Watson's comments come after T-Mobile US Inc. CEO John Legere's March 7 blog post reiterating the company's plans to use 5G to shake up the home broadband market.

Noting that fixed broadband service stands out in the tech and telecom sector as one area where consumers prices are not declining, Legere said, "All the big guys Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast and AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. seem to be playing nice with each other and never stray into each other's turf. This is working for their benefit but it's hurting consumers."

Legere said that following T-Mobile's pending merger with Sprint Corp., the combined entity will use its 5G network to offer "New T-Mobile Home Internet" service. Sprint and T-Mobile's proposed merger is currently awaiting regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. Sprint and T-Mobile have said they expect the deal to close in the first half of 2019.

"New T-Mobile's business plan is to have 9.5 million customers for our in-home broadband service by 2024," Legere said in the post.