Comcast Partnering With Verizon To Launch Hybrid Cellular And Wi-Fi Phone Service In Mid-2017

It turns out the rumors you might have heard about Comcast getting into the wireless phone space were true. Comcast boss Brian Roberts confirmed as much today by announcing plans to partner up with Verizon to launch its own brand wireless service by the middle of next year, effectively making it an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).

There are several hundred MVNOs operating in the United States. The most popular ones tend to be owned by major wireless carriers, such as Boost Mobile (Sprint), Cricket Wireless (AT&T), and MetroPCS (T-Mobile), but that won't be of much concern to Comcast—both it and Verizon enjoy tremendous brand recognition and could make a big splash in the MVNO sector.

The service Roberts described at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference earlier this morning is a sort of hybrid offering. It will leverage Comcast's 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots, similar to how Google's Project Fi operates, but also tap into Verizon's cellular network. Interestingly, Comcast inked a deal with Verizon back in 2011 that allows it to sell wireless service at set terms and pricing, so it looks as though Comcast was able to build upon that agreement.

"We believe there will be a big payback with reduced churn, more stickiness and better satisfaction," Roberts said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

At least initially, Comcast will limit wireless service to areas it already services with cable, targeting both current and potential cable subscribers, rather than going with a nationwide roll out. It's a counter to what AT&T has been doing with its DirecTV acquisition, which is to offer special deals and promotions to customers who subscriber to multiple services. While Roberts didn't announce pricing, you can expect to see it pushing bundled offers.