Comcast may — or may not be — on the verge of a wireless deal with soon-to-merge Sprint and Nextel or T-Mobile USA, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s Diane Mermigas. (Note to HR: the merger hasn’t been completed yet.) The deal, described both as fluid and coming “very soon,” could be standalone or as part of the cable consortium that has been looking for a solution; Time Warner, Cox and Charter are the others involved.
The two mobile operators are the obvious choices in a field that includes Cingular and Verizon, which are both related to companies making a head-on play for cable’s video business.
Comcast was in the cell phone business not too long ago; in fact, that business was headed by current EVP-operations Dave Watson. They could make a deal to resell services, purchase minutes wholesale and repackage them, or as sources suggest to Mermigas, “a wireless phone provider’s operations could be more closely integrated with Comcast’s, resulting in a variety of personalized services across multiple media platforms. That could be the more lucrative option but it’s the most complicated.
Comcast is looking for creativity. (Hazarding a guess, a combo wouldn’t be unlikely — a deal that starts out with an obvious, relatively easy solution and moves into complexity.) One variation of the “creative” solution sounds awfully close to an MVNO with Comcast-branded handsets and integrated content/services.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts: “Our emphasis on personalizing entertainment and communications will take us beyond the television. As media grows beyond the home, so will Comcast. Customers will want their ‘My Comcast’ phone number and their ‘My Comcast’ e-mail and their on-demand selections wherever they go.”