Comcast Begins Move into Mobile Services

The waiting is almost over: Comcast Corp. is planning to launch its own mobile service. As some of us recall, the deal called for an initial right to resell Verizon service, but later the ability to act as a mobile virtual network operator.

That suggests the first steps will involve Comcast bundling mobile service (still branded as “Verizon” service) with triple-play bundles. After a period of time, Comcast would then create an MVNO business, allowing Comcast to brand the service.

A market trial of a Comcast wireless service could begin six months after a notification to Verizon, which apparently has been made.

Comcast has the right to use Verizon as the underlying network provider as part of a sale of spectrum to Verizon in 2012. As part of that agreement, a consortium of cable companies led by Comcast sold nationwide spectrum licenses to Verizon for $3.6 billion and secured the rights to resell its wireless services.

Commercial service could start late 2016, some believe.

Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo has said unnamed cable companies have informed the carrier they now want to execute the reseller part of the agreement.

“Obviously, the industry is moving,” Shammo said. “Cable is going to do what they’re going to do, and we’re going to do what we’re going to do.”

Comcast eventually would leverage its network of homespots and public Wi-Fi hotspots, connecting customers to such Wi-Fi hotspots whenever possible to reduce payments to Verizon for use of the mobile data network. Comcast alone has deployed perhaps 10 million such homespots.

It isn’t yet clear whether Comcast would want to start out that way, however, given the learning curve of becoming first a mobile reseller and then later a branded service provider.
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