Comcast to Tap Leased Verizon Hotspots, Airwaves for Wireless Launch

Wireless network

Comcast, the nation’s largest cabelco, plans to launch a wireless service by mid-2017 using its Wi-Fi hotspots and airwaves leased from Verizon.

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts made the announcement Tuesday during a Goldman Sachs investor conference. A team of more than 150 people are working on the wireless launch, he said.

Comcast's Brian RobertsComcast wouldn’t provide any further information beyond Roberts’ comments.

In an agreement dating back to 2011, Verizon allows Comcast to sell wireless service using the telco’s network at set terms and pricing. Also, Comcast has 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots.

Comcast will market the wireless service inside its footprint, to existing and potential Comcast cable customers, as opposed to nationwide. The company is interested in offering wireless as part of a bigger bundle of services, Roberts said.

“The concept would be that our very best customers, of which we’ve got 28 million customers and well over 70 percent or 80 percent (who) buy some sort of multi-package bundle from us, we can sell them more products,” Roberts said. “If that product can be the Verizon Wireless product, maybe improved with our Wi-Fi 15 million hotspots where it’s more seamless, and we are able to give you a good value proposition if you are one of our better customers, we believe there will be a big payback with reduced churn, with more stickiness, with better satisfaction (and) more product purchasing from us.”{ad}

Comcast will be entering a highly competitive market with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile aggressively seeking to steal customers away from each other in an escalating price war.

“We will have more to say next year,” Roberts said. “We have retail locations. We have many customer interaction points. We want to do it right and do it well. And that’s what we’re working on and that’s being about as transparent as I think we can be. And I think as a goal, however, I’m very optimistic that this can work for maybe not every one of our customers, and it’s very much an in-footprint strategy, but it’s … a very meaningful strategy given how great our products are and now you’ll be able to add to that experience.”

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