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BARCELONA – T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray on Monday scoffed at the idea that fixed wireless could potentially cannibalize classic cable in the home, but not everyone at Mobile World Congress shares that view.

According to Cambridge Broadband Networks (CBNL) founder and CTO John Naylon, it’s entirely possible – likely even – that fixed wireless will either supplement or entirely replace traditional cable offerings within the next 10 to 15 years.

“People often talk about its getting more and more difficult to deliver high-speed services over existing cable DSL plugs because it’s old plugs. You can replace the active elements, but you’ve got this massive stuff in the ground which is aging,” Naylon explained. “Although the theoretical things you can deliver are good, when you combine that with actual real world realities of stuff that’s rusted and corroded and all that kind of thing, it doesn’t actually deliver that well. Whereas with wireless, you don’t have that degrading passage in the middle … it’s going to perform as stated.”

Naylon pointed out that it’s easier for wireless to offer blanket coverage with pinpointed services without having to dig the trenches that would be required for similar deployments in cable. With further maturing of the wireless technologies, Naylon said there will be new value propositions that will make it hard to justify digging to lay new cable.

Thus, though classic cable might remain as an entry level tier, Naylon said it’s likely fixed wireless will be the choice for premium broadband services.

Of course, this raises all sorts of questions around consolidation in the market, including mergers and acquisitions and the like. While he said a company like Verizon is already sitting pretty to offer these types of services, Naylon noted there’s no question mergers will take place to facilitate this transition more broadly.

Should these predictions come true, it’ll be interesting to see who leads the charge – cable or wireless – and who comes out on top.

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