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Cable Companies Are Pretending 5G Doesn’t Scare Them Just Like They Did with Cord Cutting

We are just a week away from Verizon’s 5G networks going live in a handful of cities. The service will offer data cap–free high speed internet for $50 a month to Verizon Wireless customers or $70 a month to other customers.

AT&T and T-Mobile also plan to have 5G networks live by the end of 2018 with a host of smaller companies already offering 5G services.

Many are pointing to 5G as the service that will break the monopoly of DSL and cable internet for home internet. As with all services, more competition brings better pricing and better customer service.

Now, according to the cable companies and a growing number of editorials, “5G is a technology,” Charter’s CEO Tom Rutledge said during an interview with CNBC. “We have a better platform to deploy that technology, I think, than the cellular industry does because we are fully distributed from a high-capacity wireline perspective. If you think about what 5G is, it is small cells. Small cells mean you need lots of wireline connectivity to make the small cells work. We think we are actually in a better position to do that than traditional cellular companies. Yes, 5G can be used to compete against us. It is very capital-intensive. It requires essentially a wireline network like a FiOS to support the small cells.”

This is similar to the attacks on cord cutting from about 3 years ago. Cable companies dismissed cord cutting as nothing to worry about. Now they are doing the same thing with 5G. While today 5G may not be a huge competitor to Comcast and Spectrum, over the next 2 to 5 years it will be come a major competitor.

Although he is right, you need fiber to support the network, we already see much of that in place as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T all already have fiber networks. Verizon is also spending a billion dollars to upgrade their fiber networks to get ready for 5G.

One day we may look back at comments like Charter’s CEO Tom Rutledge the same way we looked at the people who dismissed cord cutting just a few years ago.

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