Comcast Gets Into Cellphone Service

John Lister's picture

Comcast is to offer cellphone service next year, targeting its existing customers. It will use a combination of cellphone towers leased from Verizon and its own wireless hotspots.

The company is not revealing too many details at this point, but it appears it believes it will be able to offer a wider coverage area by using its existing network of around 14 million wireless hotspots.

Customers Own Routers Part of Network

That network is so large because it not only covers devices in public places such as coffee shops but also uses a "guest mode" on the wireless routers of many cable customers. That setup already allows customers to access the Internet wirelessly when they are near the property of another Comcast customer who also has the mode activated. (Source:

Exactly how the cellphone service will work hasn't been confirmed, but it appears voice calls and text messaging will go through the Verizon network. Data use such as mobile web browsing will go through the WiFi hotspots where available with Verizon's data network used as a backup.

In theory this setup will mean Comcast has to pay less money to Verizon than normally happens with such "mobile virtual network operator" services. That could allow it to charge less to customers, or keep more in profit.

Deal Could Allow All-In-One Package

It seems Comcast will initially concentrate on selling the cellphone service to its cable customers as part of a cable TV, home Internet and cellphone service bundle. That should also mean a more efficient business as Comcast could use its existing administration and customer account management.

Comcast won't necessarily be totally reliant on Verizon if the cellphone service takes off. It's reported to be among the bidders in a series of secretive government auction of unused wireless spectrum that could be used for cellphone services. Of course, there's no guarantee it would win enough of those auctions to be able to go it alone, or that it would be prepared to build equipment such as cellphone towers to take advantage. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Would you favor having cellphone service built into a cable and broadband package? What pricing and data allowances would persuade you to switch to such a deal? Does Comcast's reputation for customer services affect how you view such an offer?

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Dennis Faas's picture

This is very interesting, and also fairly similar to how Facebook proposed to use floating balloons to deliver free Internet to poor countries. In this case, the Internet signal is beamed between satellites in space and floating balloons positioned around the globe. In Comcast's case, they are using existing wifi hotspots and customer's guest Internet access to relay the signal to mainstream Internet.

clay_3833's picture

The thing is that Comcast has such an appalling reputation for customer service I couldn't see myself picking up their wireless service.

bow's picture

More and more people are cutting or considering their options in cutting the cord completely. This won't jive with those folks and the number of those folks is growing. Is this a desperate attempt by Comcast to slow that bleed? I don't know but I don't think it's something that will persuade those looking to jump ship to stay aboard. Good cheap cellphone service is available everywhere. Are they going to get cheaper than those plans and I'm sure they won't be offering any pay as you go services. They couldn't if this will be part of their bundles. Does not make sense to me. I won't be jumping on board and ditching my $33.00 a month pay as you go unlimited text and talk service only to get in deeper into the cable monsters mouth. I have been slowly moving toward cutting that cord. If it was not for my "I need cable and the remote control" freak spouse, I would already be there but I'm slowing leading them to the light.

matt_2058's picture

I see nothing wrong if Comcast wants to get into the game for bundled services. Verizon and AT&T are already there. AT&T even eliminated DirecTV as a competitor by acquiring the satellite provider. I do dislike the promotion of 'xx millions of hotspots' when in reality many are private guest network access left open. That's not a service, it's an individual's courtesy....or oversight.

I would consider switching if it was in my area. I had a good experience with Comcast. The apartment complex offered free basic cable. Comcast made it easy to add cable internet service and only charged the difference between basic cable and bundled pricing....About $40 for 55Mb service.

Wouldn't it be something if Comcast entered the market and trashed current pricing practices? Currently, the great promo pricing is only available to new customers. Neither AT&T or Cox offer any incentive to stay with them.

Kookie's picture

Regarding the "hot spots". The only way a Comcast customer can "lock out" the courtesy hot spots is if they purchase and provide their own router/modem. I use Xfinity/Comcast, and tried numerous times to "disengage" the courtesy hot spot. It would automatically regenerate.

David's picture

Any 'phone' service that depends on a network of public wifi accounts is a service that should die, fast. And since it is supported by Comcast's horrible customer service, I'd think twice about using it even if it was free.

Kookie's picture

I have Xfinity/Comcast ISP service at my home as well as my office. Ever since they "rolled out" Xfinity 1 (or whatever they are calling it) I have had average to absolutely horrible service. At my office we operate the business on "cloud" software. Let's talk about the "hiccups" Comcast Business service provides. At least 3 times every week, I must log out of the software and reboot my PC, because the "hiccup" Comcast provided us with knocks out full access to our software, along with the printers. Let's talk about the consistent "unused check numbers" we must deal with because of these "hiccups". And, seriously, Comcast Xfinity wants me to rely on ANY cell service they would be providing?! I think NOT! I would forego ANY cell service if Comcast were the only provider!