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Could Comcast and Charter Become America’s Fourth Major Wireless Carrier?

The U.S. Justice Department reportedly talked to representatives from Comcast and Charter this week about filling the void of the fourth major U.S. wireless carrier that would be created if T-Mobile and Sprint are allowed to merge.

According to Bloomberg, as a condition for approving T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion acquisition bid for Sprint, the DOJ wants the Nos. 3 & 4 wireless companies to divest wireless spectrum and enable a fourth U.S. major wireless carrier.

For their part, Comcast and Charter both have nascent mobile services through MVNO agreements with Verizon. And the cable companies collaborate on wireless business planning and technology. As of the end of the first quarter, Comcast reported 1.4 million wireless lines in deployment while Charter said it had around 310,000.

Analysts, however, suspect that after paying network leasing bills to Verizon, neither operator makes money on their respective mobile service. Bloomberg said the companies are interested in acquiring spectrum to possibly create—perhaps jointly—their own wireless network. The companies are also interested in discussing a more favorable MVNO deal, as well as any network equipment or customers that might be divested by T-Mobile and Sprint in order to facilitate approval.