Comcast to launch wireless service by the middle of 2017


Making his most substantial comments yet about Comcast’s fledgling wireless plans, company chief executive Brian Roberts told investors today that the conglomerate will launch a wireless product leveraging Comcast’s MVNO deal with Verizon, as well as its 15 million Wi-Fi hot spots, by the middle of next year. 

“It may be a little sooner, but it won’t be at the beginning of the year,” Roberts said, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference. 

With the majority of Comcast’s 28 million customers buying bundles of TV, Internet and landline phone services, Roberts said the MSO has a sizable market to upsell even more products to. 

Over the summer, Comcast promoted former Comcast Cellular Communications executive Greg Butz to oversee the new Comcast Mobile unit, which now employs around 150 workers, Roberts said. 

“We believe there will be a big payback, with reduced churn, more stickiness and greater customer satisfaction,” he added. “We’ve seen how with X1, the whole momentum of the company has been lifted, and we hope to do it again."

To launch its wireless service, Comcast is leveraging an MVNO relationship with Verizon that will allow the MSO to resell the carrier's mobile service, and coupling it with its robust Wi-Fi coverage.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks were part of a 2012 deal to sell AWS spectrum licenses to Verizon for $3.6 billion. That transaction included the option for the cable companies to resell Verizon's wireless services under an MVNO model.

Roberts had previously described Comcast as being in “test and learn” mode in terms of wireless. He said, however, that Comcast is getting so many questions about its wireless plans that it’s time to become more transparent what he describes as a “Wi-Fi and MVNO integrated product.”

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