Speculation Grows About Comcast Cell Phone Service

Company appears to be moving ahead on plans to create its own wireless network.


Can you hear me now?

It’s been nearly a year since we told you that Comcast was eyeing a plan to offer cellular phone service, using more than 8 million wifi hotspots as the backbone of its wireless network.

Those plans could be moving closer to fruition, say experts reading the tea leaves of this week’s earnings call.

Fierce Wireless reports:

Speaking to investors during Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was noncommittal when asked about whether the MSO will develop “mobile-first” products and services that would use the company’s 8.3 million Wi-Fi hotspots. According to FierceCable, Roberts said the company is “still assessing the possibilities… We don’t think this is the time where we chew open what our Wi-Fi plans are.”

However, he added, “We do believe in the asset, and we’re looking for ways to bring it to market over the next several months.”

Seems pretty vague, right? But a sharper picture emerges when other evidence is considered. Endgadget:

There’s not much you can learn from a Comcast job ad, but that won’t prevent speculation about its entry into the mobile business. The company has posted an advert asking for warm bodies executives to lead the company’s push into the “wireless ecosystem.” According to the pitch to would-be employees, the job centers around making Kabletown’s existing triple-play offerings more mobile friendly, as well as evaluating “potential entries into the wireless ecosystem.” Comcast may already have an MVNO agreement with Verizon and Sprint, but FierceCable feels that it’s at least plausible that its long-rumored WiFi calling service may finally be coming.

Christian Science Monitor says the offering could help Comcast win back customers lost when Verizon and AT&T started offering Internet services:

Additionally, there is already a growing market for Wi-Fi-only services. The high price tag from major wireless carriers has given way to FreedomPop, Republic Wireless, and Scratch Wireless, which offer mobile services as low as $5 a month. Even major carriers such as T-Mobile have rolled out plans that allow users to make calls over Wi-Fi.

Comcast would not be the first service provider to attempt the crossover. This year, Cablevision, a New York cable provider, released its own version of a Wi-Fi mobile plan. Cablevision’s Freewheel offers customers unlimited data, text, and talk for $9.95 a month.

One possible holdup? Comcast still faces a lawsuit challenging how the company has built its hotspot network — largely by piggybacking off the wireless networks already in place in the homes and businesses of many thousands of Xfinity customers.

Also on today’s Comcast reading list:
How net neutrality proponents beat Comcast and the GOP (The Week)
The FCC set to approve strong net neutrality rules (Washington Post)
Netflix Uses One Brilliant Tweet to Show Why You Should Be Afraid of Comcast (AdWeek)
Byron Allen Goes To War With Sharpton, Obama, Comcast For Future of Black Media (Daily Caller)