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Summary

Comcast Labs, the innovation arm of broadband and cable provider Comcast, has teamed up with Colorado-based startup accelerator Boomtown to launch an IoT innovation lab. Based in Boulder, CO, the lab will work with local and international startups, entrepreneurs, and companies to help develop IoT products and services.

IoT lab will help Comcast find new partners for its own products

This deal is interesting on a number of levels. First is the fact that Comcast and Boomtown are partnering for an IoT-focused facility, demonstrating the interest among stakeholders in the technology and its potential for returns. More startups are using technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect everyday devices, and the new facility will be an important place for engineers and developers to meet and share knowledge.

That Comcast Labs is partnering with Boomtown at this time also shows how its focus has expanded. It describes its mission as “developing, integrating and deploying products that change how people are entertained and informed,” and it has partnered with companies such as Verizon Wireless, Microsoft and New York-based IoT startup Bug Labs to create products including the X1 entertainment platform and Xfinity TV Go.

In the IoT space, the Xfinity Home Security service, like AT&T’s Digital Life and ADT’s Pulse, goes beyond security and monitoring to offer home automation services. By getting involved in this new lab with Boomtown, Comcast is both signaling its own interest in bringing forward IoT and positioning itself to interact with developers, engineers, and entrepreneurs that will help it improve its own offering. Doing so will also help Comcast if it follows AT&T’s lead in opening its platform to third-party products.

The final point about this deal is its location, outside Silicon Valley. While most telcos have built a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area to be closer to the local innovation ecosystem, many have also begun looking to other innovation clusters for new partners. Cities such as Austin, TX, and Portland, OR, are attracting entrepreneurs who might not be able or willing to pay for life in Silicon Valley. So although Silicon Valley remains the center of the US innovation ecosystem, it’s important for telcos to be able to keep an eye on what’s happening elsewhere.

Appendix

Further reading

Digital Strategy: Telcos joining Silicon Valley ecosystem to jumpstart innovation, TE0003-000684 (April 2014)

“AT&T Digital Life opens platform to third-party devices, putting it on track for mass market”, TE0004-001010 (January 2015)

Author

Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Digital Services

francesco.radicati@ovum.com

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