Time Warner Cable CEO: WiMax Investment 'Defensive', Mobile Video No 'Big Deal'

A couple interesting remarks from Time Warner Cable (TWC) CEO Glenn Britt, whose company is soon to be spun off from parent Time Warner (TWX).

In a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal, he was particularly candid about his $550 million investment in Clearwire (CLWR), which is merging with Sprint Nextel’s (S) Xohm WiMax unit to build/sell a super-fast wireless Internet service.

Why’d they invest? Is mobile the next big thing for the cable business? Um, maybe someday.

“We saw that as a defensive move,” Britt said. “…the technologies and the products are as yet not fully defined. It’s a bit of a start-up, leap-of-faith kind of thing.”

He’s right, of course: Clearwire isn’t likely to help TWC’s business any time soon, as it’s not even close to being built out, and there aren’t any gadgets that work with it. But his broadband/phone/TV competition — AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) — own the two biggest U.S. wireless networks, so he’s smart to invest defensively.

How about mobile TV, which has been hyped to death by the mobile business, with little to show for it? Britt:

I know people talk a lot about mobile video, and I certainly think there is some application for it. But I quite honestly haven’t seen it as a big deal. People do want to get video wherever they are. We already have a robust over-the-air television system which, as it goes digital, will be able to have a mobile component to it. But I don’t know how big the ultimate market is in this country. I’m sceptical.

We agree. The idea of video or TV on your mobile phone or iPod isn’t a bad one. But we don’t see more than a tiny, niche audience paying for mobile TV service any time soon.

See Also:
Is Sprint-Clearwire Doomed From The Start?
Time Warner Cable Touts Web-To-TV Device
Mobile Video: Small, Growing. Will It Ever Take Off?

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