In a discussion with reporters today, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead hedged Comcast's claims that LTE is a viable competitor to traditional landline cable modems. Anyone who uses both knows that it's a ridiculous argument — LTE service is usually slower, less consistent, and comes with deeply restrictive data caps — but Comcast has been leaning on it as a supposed example of why competition is healthy in the broadband internet market. The end goal for the cable giant is to convince regulators that there's enough competition in high-speed internet service that its pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable won't create a monopoly or have a serious impact on consumer choice.
"...we don't see LTE being as efficient as fiber coming into the home."
"They're trying to get deals approved, right, and I understand that... their focus is different than my focus right now, because I don't have any deals pending," Mead said, a reference to the fact that Comcast is looking for ways to justify the TWC buy. "LTE certainly can compete with broadband, but if you look at the physics and the engineering of it, we don't see LTE being as efficient as fiber coming into the home."
Before moving to Verizon's wireless unit, Mead held executive roles in the company's landline business, responsible for traditional telephone service and high-speed internet to the home. "We know both sides of that pretty well," he continued. "So that may be a little bit of a stretch, and the economics are much different."
The claim that LTE is competitive with its own broadband service puts Comcast in an awkward position: Comcast and Verizon Wireless cross-sell each another's products in stores, which further undermines the argument that the two services go head-to-head. By all appearances, Mead agrees.