Comcast Today: Will Wifi-Based Phone Service Work?

Wall Street Journal thinks so.

The Wall Street Journal today examines Comcast’s plan to build a phone system using millions of wifi hotspots as the spine of its network:

Because Comcast already has the wires and authorizations in place, it costs little to add new hot spots. And a gigabyte of wireline data costs less than one-seventh the price of a gigabyte of wireless data.

So cable could potentially undercut traditional carriers. Priced at a 25% discount to current wireless offerings, cable providers could still make margins of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 31%, according to New Street Research. It estimates cable firms could get 20% of their subscriber base onto wireless within five years

Bigger obstacles may include getting handset makers to agree to make devices with the necessary specifications for a Wi-Fi-based network and Comcast’s own appetite for going head-to-head with incumbents including Verizon and AT&T.

The government is skeptical of such service, the paper says, worried that Sprint and T-Mobile might be unduly undermined by it.

Other Comcastic headlines:

Comcast Corporation is expected to report significantly higher first-quarter earnings Tuesday, with demand for broadband Internet driving revenue growth at its Comcast Cable unit and NBC’s exclusive coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics boosting ad dollars at NBCUniversal. The Philadelphia-based cable and media conglomerate is expected to show net income of $1.7 billion for the period ended March 31, compared to $1.4 billion for the same period last year. Earnings per share are forecast to rise 26.3 percent to 64 cents per share, compared to 51 cents per share a year earlier. (International Business Times)

Charter Communications is in discussions with Comcast and Time Warner Cable to acquire up to $20 billion in assets, including up to five million subscribers. The move comes as Comcast awaits a decision from federal regulators regarding its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Charter previously made a failed bid for Time Warner Cable, but has continued to eye growth through acquisitions. (St. Louis Business Journal)

5 Fun Facts From the NYT Profile of Comcast’s David Cohen (PhillyMag)