Comcast is the only option for cable and internet in a surprisingly high percentage of America, but the picture is different in the wireless industry. There, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon slug it out endlessly — each clawing for even tiny advantage. So of course Comcast wants to get in on the game, by partnering with Verizon. And nobody outside of Comcast seems happy about it, especially Verizon, which just got the kind of Comcast experience the company usually reserves for its customers.
Comcast isn’t buying any towers or building its own network — instead, they’re utilizing a Mobile Virtual Network Operator deal with Verizon, which was part of a deal the two companies struck in 2011. Basically this gives Comcast the right to “buy” access to Verizon’s network in bulk, and then sell that as its own wireless service. Five years ago, the deal seemed like a tit-for-tat thing, and Comcast seemed uninterested in executing the terms. But today, Comcast announced it’d be offering wireless service starting next year, and Verizon, contacted for comment, was rather unenthusiastic:
We have an existing MVNO agreement and we were informed that they are going to execute on that agreement and the agreement is the agreement. I am not going to get into whether we’re discussing of revising the agreement or the terms and conditions of that, since it’s under NDNA and we will see how this plays out. Obviously the industry is moving. Cable is going to do what they are going to do and we’re going to do what we’re going to do.
Comcast’s service will pair calls through WiFi hotspots with Verizon network support, and “Comcast Wireless” will almost certainly be part of the company’s increasingly important bundles. Bundles aren’t just useful for getting deals, they’re how Comcast and other cable companies have been staving off a wave of cord-cutters. In other words, there is an almost certain chance that Verizon is going to not only lose customers to Comcast in 2017, but it will have to offer mobile service to customers who bail for a Comcast Quadruple Play package as well.
We’ll give Comcast this: At least they’re embracing how the public sees them.