Comcast Goes Wireless: Plans to Resell WiMax Services

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Cable giant Comcast—which, incidentally, now claims to be the third largest provider of residential phone service in the U.S.—is reportedly making plans to bundle and resell WiMax mobile broadband as part of its service offerings, beginning in Portland, Oregon. According to The Oregonian, the cable company is eyeing a mid-year launch for the service, and will likely bundle it in with its existing cable television, Internet, voice, and mobile services—in theory, that could make Comcast’s service offering in the Portland area a “quintuple play,” encompassing up to five consumer services in one package (and on one bill).

Comcast has long partnered with WiMax partner Sprint to bring mobile phone capabilities to its service packages, and Comcast has also invested $1 billion in Clearwire, the company that took over building out Sprint’s WiMax services with the help of outside investments. Other Clearwire backers include Google and Intel.

Portland is the second city Clearwire has lit up with WiMax broadband service; the first was Baltimore. The company recently announced plans to roll out WiMax to 8 new markets in 2009 (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Honolulu, Philadelphia, and Seattle), with expansion to over 80 markets in 2010—with New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and San Francisco first on that list. However, Clearwire’s stock price has taken a steady beating as industry watchers wonder whether it can manage a nationwide WiMax rollout in the current economic climate.

Comcast hasn’t announced pricing for its WiMax service offering in Portland, although it will likely be buying the service wholesale from Clearwire. Clearwire currently charges users between $20 and $50 a month for WiMax service; Comcast is likely to bundle WiMax with other service offerings at lower rates.