Comcast Targets Mid-Year for Wireless Bundle Launch

Comcast executives held their wireless cards close to the vest Thursday, with chairman and CEO Brian Roberts offering that a product will be launched by the middle of this year but only in bundles.

Comcast has been expected to launch a wireless offering since last year, when the company activated a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with Verizon. The MVNO was part of Comcast’s participation in SpectrumCo consortium of cable operators that sold its wireless spectrum licenses to Verizon in 2011.

Comcast activated the MVNO in October 2015, and last year formalized its wireless commitment by creating a new unit, Comcast Mobile, headed by former sales and marketing EVP Greg Butz.

This isn't the first time Roberts has said a wireless product is coming in mid-2017. But on a conference call to discuss fourth quarter and year-end results on Thursday, the Comcast chief appeared to make it clear that it will only be available in a bundle of video and data service. Any other strategic plans remain under wraps.

“I would characterize our efforts and approach in the following way: One, we plan to include wireless in our multiproduct bundles in a way that is designed to add value to our customers, improve retention, and ultimately benefit lifetime customer economics for us,” Roberts said on the call. “Our offering will give customers access to a world-class wireless network benefiting from our Wi-Fi with the best mobile devices and a simple transparent experience, all for a great value.”

But as analysts continued to press him for more details, Roberts stuck to the script, adding that the goal is to bundle services for customers that want to save on their bills.

“There's only one way to find out and it's to get started,” Roberts said. “We're going to take it very carefully.”

Roberts deflected questions about Comcast’s MVNO relationship with Verizon, adding only that it is “good,” and that the company is excited to be nearing the launch.

“We will learn a lot as we go,” he said.