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September 21, 2016

Comcast Enters Mobile Phone Service Market

With new iPhone releases and exploding Samsung batteries, it seems like mobile phones have been on everyone’s minds these days. Comcast showed that they, too, have mobile devices on the brain by announcing that they will launch their own MVNO cellular service. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts revealed during an investor conference yesterday that the Comcast “network” will launch by mid-2017.

This announcement isn’t much of a surprise. There have been rumors for awhile now that Comcast was going to be launching its own cellular service. The fact that Comcast and Verizon have been partners since 2012 was also a clear indicator that the company would be dabbling in mobile services sooner or later. The biggest hint, though, happened back in July when Comcast promoted executive Greg Butz to lead the newly created Comcast Mobile division. If that wasn’t a blinking sign pointing towards this announcement, then I don’t know what is.

What makes this network different than others is that it puts emphasis on Wi-Fi hotspots, much like Google’s Project Fi. Relying primarily on Wi-Fi hotspots is a good idea, given that there’s Wi-Fi in most public places and homes. So what happens when there is no wireless connection nearby? Don’t worry, when away from Wi-Fi connections, the service will run on the Verizon Wireless network.

There aren’t a ton of details available yet about the newly announced service—Roberts didn’t go into pricing or rollout plans—but it looks like they may be taking a page out of AT&T’s book when it comes to targeting customers. AT&T offers a special deal to its DirecTV customers; those who use the satellite service get access to an unlimited AT&T mobile data plan.

It seems like Comcast is looking to go a similar route. The CEO stated that the service will be aimed at its existing cable customers. There are over 14 million Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide, according to Comcast, which means that they could potentially have a huge customer base. Some of these hotspots are in public places like coffee shops and parks, while others can be found in homes that enable their routers to have a “guest mode.” Either way, that’s a whole lot of Xfinity hotspots that people will be able to connect their mobile phones to come 2017.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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