Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh said the cable and internet company will have a paddle to bid in the FCC’s upcoming forward spectrum auction.
Cavanagh’s comments came during Comcast’s fourth quarter earnings call on Wednesday and addressed rampant speculation about whether the cable and internet giant would participate alongside wireless companies like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. Fellow TV provider Dish is also widely expected to participate.
According to Cavanagh, Comcast’s entrance into the participant ring is non-committal and any spending that might occur will not impact the company’s planned $5 billion in buybacks this year.
“We’re going to take a paddle on the auction, which means we’re going to evaluate, consider and may purchase, but only if we think the price is right after we do our evaluation of what’s available,” Cavanaugh said.
In evaluating the airwaves up for grabs in the auction, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the company will be seeking spectrum that holds “strategic value” as Comcast looks to leverage its other mobile assets.
In October 2015, Comcast inked an agreement with Verizon, allowing it to use the carrier’s network to launch its own MVNO service.
Significant bidding participation by Comcast could give forward auction revenues a boost, which would help alleviate fears that auction revenues may fall below the $45 billion expected by the FCC.
According to figures from Bloomberg, bids from the major wireless carriers and Dish Network could total just $33 billion, especially without the participation of players like Sprint and U.S. Cellular who have either outright stated or hinted that they will not participate.
Applications for auction bidders are due by Feb. 9.
Spectrum aside, Roberts said the company doesn’t have any other big spending planned on mergers and acquisitions for wireless, Internet or European cable assets.
“There’s nothing we feel we have to do,” Roberts said. “Sitting here today, our plan of record in 2016 is to execute on a business plan, stay focused, and I don’t feel the need that we need to go and change the face of our company.”
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)