Comcast has been making their intentions to launch a wireless service all but public in the past few months, and now they’ve finally gone official and announced that they will be dipping their toes into the waters of the wireless world some time in the middle of this year. The announcement came during Comcast’s recent earnings call. According to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, the plan is to emphasize a bundle deal that includes cable, home, and wireless services The services are intended to be bolstered by Wi-Fi, which could mean that Comcast plans to launch a Wi-Fi push across service areas. He called launching the network this year a “priority”, but did not provide an exact timeline for when this would happen.
Interestingly, there seemed to be no indication that Comcast plans to offer wireless service on its own, with all mentions of it being as a part of a bundle. A possible price point for wireless service also went unmentioned during the earnings call. Talk of putting wireless into the mix “in a way designed to add value” for customers seems to imply that bundle plans that include wireless will be priced in such a way that getting wireless service alongside something else becomes a more tempting proposition than grabbing just one service from Comcast.
While Roberts did mention that the network will be bolstered by Wi-Fi, it likely won’t be too shabby in and of itself; Comcast has a standing MVNO deal with Verizon. This could mean that their customers will have access to one of the biggest, fastest networks in the nation, but there will presumably be a catch; if the bundle is as tempting as Roberts makes it sound, Verizon is unlikely to tolerate a deluge of new customers using lots of data at high speeds on their network while they’re only being paid MVNO contract rates for their troubles. The emphasis on bolstering the network with Wi-Fi is an indicator that we could be looking at a Wi-Fi first MVNO in the vein of Republic Wireless. Whatever Comcast’s plan may be, they will be diving into shark-infested waters, and will likely find themselves scrambling for the exit in short order, according to T-Mobile US CEO John Legere. Only time will tell if Legere is correct or if a cable company can get the MVNO model right.