Comcast Reportedly Jumping into Wireless Service with Verizon Network

It could lead to the company buying T-Mobile.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Are you ready for Comcast cell phone service? The tech and media giant is reportedly stepping into the wireless realm by using Verizon’s network.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Comcast has notified Verizon of its intent to resell cellular service using the carrier’s network. In a $3.6 billion deal struck in 2012, Comcast and other cable companies sold Verizon spectrum licenses and received the right to resell wireless services in return.

During a Verizon earnings call, CFO Fran Shammo said: “We were informed that [cable companies] are going to execute on that agreement.”

So what does all this mean? Bloomberg says: “Comcast would offer a hybrid cellular and Wi-Fi service, using Verizon’s network and Wi-Fi hotspots.” It also quoted an analyst who says “commercial service could start ‘by this time next year.’ ” A Bloomberg source with knowledge of Comcast’s plans said the company has 10 million wifi hotspots and is still exploring ways to leverage them.

Whether wifi can replace high-speed cellular networks remains to be seen, and Re/code reports that “Comcast is expected to rely first on its large Wi-Fi network and use cellular networks only where Wi-Fi is unavailable.”

Forget the Comcast Triple Play. Re/code says we might be on our way to the Quad Play — where Comcast offers TV, Internet, Wireless Service and a landline (like anyone actually needs a landline anymore.) It’s “an option which AT&T is already doing nationwide thanks to its DirecTV acquisition.”

Will Comcast wireless service catch on? An analyst that spoke to Re/code says it “will only gain national traction if prices are significantly lower and device choice is not compromised.”

The analyst also said T-Mobile could emerge as a possible Comcast takeover target. “We wouldn’t be surprised if they take a hard look at buying T-Mobile.”

BGR says a Comcast-T-Mobile deal makes sense for a number of reasons. T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom “has been trying to unload the “Un-carrier” from its books for years and has tried to sell it to both AT&T and Sprint parent company SoftBank.”

Plus government regulators might actually go for the deal (unlike the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal that fell through.) BGR says it’s “much harder to make a case that Comcast buying T-Mobile would hurt the competitive landscape of the American wireless industry since Comcast wouldn’t be eliminating a competitor and because it could argue that it would give T-Mobile more resources to compete than what DT is giving it.”

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