Comcast, already the nation's largest cable provider, apparently now wants to get into the mobile carrier business by reselling mobile services to its own customers through an arrangement with Verizon Wireless.
Comcast told Verizon that it wants to pursue a reselling arrangement, which was created as an option back in 2012 when Comcast and others sold nationwide FCC spectrum licenses to Verizon for $3.6 billion as part of an industry shift, according to an Oct. 21 report by Bloomberg. The report was based on information from two anonymous sources who are familiar with that deal. Under the deal, Comcast, Verizon and the other players agreed to market and sell each other's services, the story reported.
Under such a reselling agreement, "Comcast would offer a hybrid cellular and WiFi service, using Verizon's network and WiFi hotspots," the report continued.
In an Oct. 20 call with financial analysts, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo acknowledged that cable companies he would not identify informed the carrier they want to pursue the reseller arrangements, the story reported. "Obviously, the industry is moving," Shammo said during the call. "Cable is going to do what they're going to do, and we're going to do what we're going to do."
A Comcast wireless offering could begin as a trial service in about six months, with commercial services starting a year from now, the story reported. The mobile services could potentially be provided at half the cost of a conventional wireless carrier, the story continued.
Comcast has not confirmed that it will definitely pursue mobile phone services, but the company is looking into the possibilities, according to the report.
The Comcast inquiries into wireless services follow a big move by AT&T in August when it offered $500-per-line credits to DirecTV customers to entice them to switch to AT&T's mobile services. AT&T acquired DirecTV in July in a $48.5 billion deal and has been working to persuade customers of the satellite TV service to move their mobile phone accounts over to AT&T from its competitors, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
The AT&T offer came less than three weeks after AT&T acquired DirecTV after pursuing the merger since May 2014.
Under the $500-per-line offer, which expired Oct. 5, AT&T gave a $300 bill credit for each wireless line ported to AT&T when a customer also bought a new smartphone on an AT&T Next account. Customers also received an additional $200 credit or promotional card, for a total of $500, when they traded in an eligible smartphone. For a family of four with DirecTV or U-verse TV services, that means that if they switched four wireless lines over to AT&T from another carrier, bought four new phones on the AT&T Next plan and traded in their old eligible phones, they could have received up to $2,000 in total credits. AT&T consumer and business customers were eligible for the $500 per wireless line offer.
In addition, AT&T also began offering an "All in One Plan" that combines television and wireless services in one package on one bill for four HD and DVR receivers, unlimited talk and text for four smartphone lines, and 10GB of shareable data per month for $200 a month for 12 months.
AT&T's move to offer enhanced deals to bring over DirecTV customers to grow its own subscriber base was part of the company's vision for making the acquisition in the first place. The merger turned AT&T into a bigger player with its hands in more markets and a ready pool of new prospects to bring into its business coffers.