Feeds

Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network

Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner

Top three mobile application threats

Google apparently isn't the only company thinking about getting into the wireless networking game. Cable TV and internet giant Comcast has hinted that it's interested luring away some of the mobile carriers' business, too.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange commission on Tuesday, Comcast said that it plans to dramatically increase the number of Wi-Fi hotspots it operates in the country, which it said "could make a 'Wi-Fi-first' service, which combines commercial mobile radio service with Wi-Fi, a more viable alternative."

Such a service would likely be similar to what is currently offered by upstart carrier Republic Wireless, which uses a proprietary VoIP app for Android to connect calls over the internet, only switching over to cellular networks when a Wi-Fi connection is unavailable.

It also sounds plenty similar to what Google has reportedly been pondering. The Mountain View Chocolate Factory is said to be considering offering wireless voice and data to its Google Fiber customers, with calls running over Wi-Fi hotspots on the Google Fiber network when they are available.

For a company the size of Comcast to offer a Wi-Fi-first service could potentially be disruptive for the US mobile industry, where customers are for the most part divided between the "Big Four" wireless giants: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Customers can choose from a number of smaller, so-called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), but these all license their service from the giants, so the Big Four end up profiting from them anyway.

By supplementing their reliance on the Big Four's mobile towers with Wi-Fi, however, companies like Republic Wireless have a legitimate shot at wresting away some control of the mobile market – and, potentially, offering customers real value. Republic's mobile service plans start at just $5 per month.

Comcast's proposal has a catch, however. Everything suggested in its SEC filing on Tuesday is contingent upon regulators giving the green light to its planned $45bn merger with current rival Time Warner Cable, a deal that has raised plenty of eyebrows.

Said merger is no sure thing. Critics have argued that it will dramatically reduce competition in the US wired internet business, and regulators have been reluctant to see that happen in other telecommunications markets – namely wireless, where top antitrust officials have looked askance at a proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Little wonder, then, that Comcast would try to paint its merger with Time Warner as creating more competition in the wireless market, rather than less. Tell us, Reg faithful, are we buying it? Let us know in Comments. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.