On Thursday morning, Comcast will finally unveil its secretive plan to launch a new mobile service.
Since the plan was announced in September, Comcast executives have been staving off questions from analysts, who are curious about everything from pricing and contract terms to available handsets.
“I'm going to stop there and say stay tuned,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, issuing a typical company response during Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “We'll clarify things.”
Indeed, hopefully, all will be clear following Comcast’s 9:00 a.m. EDT investor presentation Thursday.
Here are some things we know going in:
> Comcast’s mobile product is being spearheaded by Greg Butz, who joined Comcast back in 1993 as director of business development for the erstwhile Comcast Cellular Communications, and who had been in working in various sales and marketing roles since that time. He was named to the newly created position of Comcast Mobile president last July. Butz is known for having spearheaded the creation of Comcast’s Xfinity Store chain. He reports to Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast Cable. Butz leads a team of around 100 Comcast Mobile employees, shaping a wireless product that will be bundled into the MSO’s existing video, internet and landline offerings. The mobile product will combine usage of Verizon’s network via an MVNO deal signed back in 2011 with Comcast’s network of around 14 million Wi-Fi hotspots.
> Comcast is basing the service on the combined reach of its more than 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots and an MVNO deal carved out in 2011 with Verizon.
> Comcast will bundle the service with internet, video and landline telephone services. “We plan to include wireless in our multi-product bundles in a way that is designed to add value to our customers, improve retention and ultimately benefit lifetime customer economics for us,” Roberts said. “Our offering will give customers access to a world-class wireless network benefiting from our Wi-Fi with the best mobile devices and a simple, transparent experience, all for a great value.
> The rollout will likely be limited at first. “We will be disciplined with our investment and expect to be NPV-positive on each incremental customer once we've achieved a limited initial scale,” Roberts added. “We will be measured in our rollout, learning and adapting along the way.”
> The Comcast service will be available on iPhone. As FierceWireless reported last week, Comcast’s name has been added to behind-the-scenes—but publicly available—code that lists carrier bundles for the iPhone. The list of carrier bundles is used by iTunes and iPhones to determine whether the iPhone’s SIM is supported by a service provider with whom Apple has an agreement, then provisions the phone accordingly. The iPhone’s latest list of carrier bundles includes “Verizon_Comcast_LTE_US,” and mentions the service “Xfinity Mobile.” A source pointed out the reference to FierceWireless, and a different source with knowledge of the matter confirmed that Comcast has indeed partnered with Apple ahead of the launch of Xfinity Mobile.