Comcast has confirmed plans to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service by mid-2017. The new cellular plan will be targeted at current Comcast cable subscribers and rely on a mix of Wi-Fi hotspots and Verizon’s network.
Service will run over wifi and verizon's network. Will be targeted toward existing cable customers.
— Ryan Knutson (@Ryan_Knutson) September 20, 2016
The upcoming service sounds a bit like Google’s Project Fi, which relies on a mix of public Wi-Fi and carrier networks. However, Comcast’s main reason for launching the service could be to compete with AT&T, which offers special carrier promotions through DirecTV. Comcast could do something similar, providing mobile phone service as an extra perk or an add-on for its cable and internet subscribers.
Comcast already has around 15 million hotspots operating across the country, which should provide a strong foundation for the service. That includes open hotspots in public places like cafes and parks. However, it also counts private routers that have the company’s optional “guest mode” enabled, allowing nearby strangers with an Xfinity account to piggyback on the network.
It sounds like Comcast’s new service could be a nice option for current subscribers, assuming the company can provide a seamless transition between Wi-Fi and Verizon’s network. We don’t know exactly when it will rollout or how much it might cost, but we should learn more next year as the planned launch draws closer.