Enforcing a 2011 agreement between Comcast and Verizon, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced plans to run a test that would offer wireless service for mobile devices by reselling Verizon’s wireless service in an unnamed market. Comcast is likely testing an option where the company would package wireless carrier service in conjunction with cable or Internet service.
Assuming the tests perform well for Comcast, the cable giant could eventually expand the offering to a broader area. According to the details of the agreement, Comcast has to wait six months before rolling out a first-party wireless carrier platform, but can test wireless service as a resale product on Verizon’s network during that six months. The agreement also allows Comcast to peek inside Verizon and study the technical aspects of the network as well as marketing data on advertising the service to consumers.
Of course, Comcast may have to create a very attractive offer in order to get consumers to switch from services like Verizon, AT&T or Sprint. Competition in the wireless space is more complex than being one of the few options for cable television service in a regional area of the country. Comcast will also have to address the issue of customer dissatisfaction to get people to switch. The company is consistently rated at the bottom of pack among both cable companies and Internet service providers.
Comcast has been adding quite a few new broadband customers at of late though. During the third quarter of 2015, Comcast added an additional 320,000 broadband customers. That’s roughly a 2 percent gain over the previous year. On the cable side, Comcast lost roughly 48,000 customers. However, that’s a significant drop from last year when Comcast lost 81,000 cable customers in the same quarter.
According to the Wall Street Journal, some analysts believe Comcast is pursuing a “Wi-Fi-first” strategy. That would rely on Wi-Fi as the primary carrier network and utilize mobile carrier networks to fill in coverage gaps. Hypothetically, that would allow Comcast to significantly undercut competitor pricing as well as utilize the company’s existing ISP infrastructure to help increase coverage.