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Comcast will launch its own wireless service next year

It will use a combination of Verizon and WiFi hotspots.
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Jeff Fusco/AP Images

Rumors have suggested a WiFi-powered wireless service from Comcast for years, and today at a Goldman Sachs event its CEO confirmed the move. Brian Roberts said that by mid-2017 Comcast will launch a wireless offering that combines access to hotspots with Verizon service, which is apparently based on access included in a 2011 spectrum deal. Although he said it was too early to give much detail, the revelation came just after Roberts demonstrated Netflix on a Comcast X1 set-top box for the first time, so apparently, it's just that kind of day.

In New York City Cablevision launched a WiFi-powered wireless service last year, although we haven't heard much about Freewheel since. Verizon exec Fran Shammo said late last year that the company had been informed cable companies would execute on their 2011 MVNO agreement. Until we hear more from Comcast, his comment on the Q3 2015 earnings call may provide a little extra information.

Fran Shammo, Verizon:

We have an existing MVNO agreement and we were informed that they are going to execute on that agreement and the agreement is the agreement. I am not going to get into whether we're discussing of revising the agreement or the terms and conditions of that, since it's under NDNA and we will see how this plays out. Obviously the industry is moving. Cable is going to do what they are going to do and we're going to do what we're going to do.

I think that again though what I would say is we truly believe that Wi-Fi is a complementary wireless network if you will with LTE and we don't believe one replaces the other. Just like when we launched LTE, we said "look it's not going to replace Wi-Fi, it's not going to replace broadband into the home." Similar, Wi-Fi is not going to replace LTE. So, I think that's where it stands right now, so, I really won't interject any more around the MVNO.

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