Is Comcast Going to Be Your NextCellphone Provider?
Is Comcast Going to Be Your
Next Cellphone Provider?
Cashing in on an old deal
Back in 2012, Comcast and other cable providers struck a deal with
Verizon Communications, which allowed the cable providers to
resell some of Verizon’s wireless spectrum. Until now, none of the
cable providers have used the spectrum, but sources have told
Bloomberg that Comcast is ready to use the airwaves.
Comcast will use the spectrum to become a mobile virtual network
operator (MVNO), which would first tap into Wi-Fi networks for
voice, text and data functions and use cellular signals only when
Wi-Fi isn’t available. Comcast is expected to start trials of the service
soon, with a possible launch in late 2016.
While other cable providers may eventually pursue the same
cellphone service opportunity, Comcast is in a unique position to
do so now. The cable provider has hundreds of thousands of its own
Wi-Fi hotspots and has a partnership with other cable companies to
allow its users to tap into additional Wi-Fi hotspots.
While it’s likely Comcast will move forward with its cellphone service
plan, we still don’t know what the company will charge for the
service or which devices the service will work with.
The downside for wireless carriers
Any additional competition in the U.S. wireless space could pull
customers away from traditional carriers. MVNO offerings are
typically less expensive than traditional wireless plans, and current
subscribers looking for a good deal could be swayed by Comcast’s
potentially lower-priced offering.
According to analysts at New Street Research, Wi-Fi first cellphone
services from cable companies have the opportunity to snag 9% of
the U.S. retail wireless subscriber market by 2019, and increase
cable providers’ revenue by 10% to 12%.
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