Comcast to Provide Wireless Phone Service by Mid-2017

The company finally made its plans to launch into the wireless market official.

Brian Roberts

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced on Tuesday that the cable company has plans to launch a wireless service by mid-2017, which means that Comcast customers may soon be able to purchase cell phone service as part of a bundle of services like cable TV and home broadband.

To launch the service, Comcast will rely on its 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots and use airwaves leased from Verizon, the WSJ reports.

Comcast’s 2011 deal with Verizon allows the cable company to sell wireless service using the telecom carrier’s network at set terms and pricing, according to the WSJ, allowing the company to bypass investments in wireless service infrastructure like cell towers.

The cable giant has toyed with the idea of offering wireless service for some years now, and at the end of 2015 said it was experimenting to determine the best business model for the expansion. At the time, Roberts told Business Insider that Comcast had dabbled with wireless phone service before, but it wasn’t a huge success.

As the cable-TV business remains stagnant, moving into the wireless service space can help Comcast gain an edge with a new revenue stream, but the company is entering a crowded marketplace with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint controlling large shares. “Wireless revenue growth is slowing and carriers are locked in a price war over a finite amount of existing subscribers,” said the WSJ. And the possibility of Comcast acquiring a carrier like T-Mobile is still on the table, Bloomberg reports.

Whether the hybrid cellular and Wi-Fi service will gain any traction with consumers is still a big question. Comcast says it plans to market the new service to existing and potential customers. The company has not released any details on pricing or the kinds of devices consumers will be able to use.

The cable company also recently announced that Netflix will be integrated into its X-1 platform.

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