Would Amazon Really Enter the Wireless Biz?

June 3rd, 2019 by · 5 Comments

As the Sprint/T-Mobile deal continues to fight for regulatory approval, perhaps the most interesting story to emerge is the prospect of Amazon becoming a wireless player on its own. The idea seems to be for Amazon to buy Boost from Sprint as well as a pile of spectrum, bootstrapping its way into direct competition with the big 3.

Despite winning the favor of the FCC chairman, T-Mobile and Sprint are still struggling to appease regulators at the DOJ. The DOJ reportedly wants a 4th competitor to somehow emerge from the fray, and this is one credible way it could happen.

But is it actually credible? Amazon’s huge retail and cloud presence certainly mean it has the customer reach and technological core to do it. But building a nextgen wireless and backhaul network from scratch is not an easy task, and it’s something that would require a lot of focus from Amazon on a business model that is entirely new to them. It’s a business that requires infrastructure that will never be as centralized as its cloud business has become.

On the other hand, we could think of the parallels over in India with the rise of Reliance Jio. A relentlessly disruptive pricing model backed by a company with the resources to hold the line against incumbents with more debt and less agility exposed weaknesses that had not been perceived prior.

If anything, Amazon would seem to have a better shot at it than Jio did initially, if they really wanted to. With its own cloud and fiber infrastructure already reaching out to the network edge, with the tower and metro backhaul sectors stable and ready to help, with regulators seeking more competition, and with 5G deployment schedules and economics already disrupted by the Huawei ban, it seems as if the time might be ripe.

While the other big tech/cloud players also have deep enough pockets, they don’t seem that interested taking on the wireless sector. Given its discount retail origins, Amazon is surely the most dangerous potential entrant to the wireless business. But again, they’d really have to want to do it. Right I think it’s just a spreadsheet thing, but that could change quickly.

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Categories: Mergers and Acquisitions · Wireless

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5 Comments So Far

  • Fibermancer says:

    I don’t see why Amazon wouldn’t elect to decide to be a wireless provider, it makes about as much sense as them buying a supermarket chain. Building a wireless network from scratch and building a brand would be quite a challenge. But buying an established brand, being able to piggy back on a network for a few years will give them the foothold to get their feet under them, build it out over time, and come out on the other side as one of the top companies. Plus they can combine it with Amazon’s other suite of services and devices. This may just be the kind of shortcut into a new space that any company would kill for. With the cash that Amazon has, it could certainly pull it off

    • Rob Powell says:

      It seems like a more credible idea than Google Fiber entering the FTTH sector. I didn’t take it seriously at first, but after thinking about it… There’s also the billionaires ego angle — Bezos putting Trump in a position of backing his plans.

  • Rob says:

    Spectrum. In an Amazon world, voice is just a little app with too many regs. Spectrum can be used for so much more. Abandon the Boost subscribers and create the next gen direct connect into the Amazon universe.

  • Highbeam says:

    Amazon buys Boost then Crown Castle?

  • Amazon tried a smartphone once, remember? They are advancing Cloud Contact Center and Chime with SIP trunking for businesses. Alexa can make phone calls. Why wouldn’t they follow Google Fi?

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