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Comcast Quietly Preps Challenge to Wireless Carriers

Matthew Vascellaro
Matthew Vascellaro

Google isn’t the only technology giant thinking of offering new mobile phone plans to unseat wireless giants.

The country’s largest cable operator, Comcast, is laying the groundwork for Wi-Fi-based wireless services just a few years after it abandoned plans to launch conventional mobile phone services over cellular airwaves. Comcast officials recently told people outside the company that it was considering a mobile phone service, which would rely on a combination of Wi-Fi and leased capacity on cellular networks.

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And there have been some smaller efforts in the U.S. Scratch Wireless lets people use mobile services for free when they are connected to Wi-Fi and pay a $1.99 daily or $14.99 monthly fee to use Sprint’s mobile network when they aren’t in Wi-Fi range, though the company imposes a data-usage cap. Republic Wireless offers unlimited wireless plans including one for $25 a month that relies on Wi-Fi networks to handle as much data traffic as possible and Sprint’s 3G mobile network for the rest.


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A recent report by New Street Research estimated that U.S. cable companies could price Wi-Fi-based mobile phone service at a 25% discount to existing wireless carriers and still generate profit margins well north of 30%.

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