U.S. cablecos cooperate on common platforms, device logistics in bid to accelerate entry to wireless market.
Comcast and Charter Communications have agreed to work together in order to give their respective MVNOs the best chance of success in the increasingly cut-throat U.S. mobile market.
The two cablecos each have a wholesale agreement with Verizon. Comcast plans to roll out its service, called Xfinity Mobile, in the coming months. Charter is expected to follow suit in 2018; however, following this week’s announcement, it seems possible that the launch could be brought forward.
On Monday, Comcast announced that it will explore areas of cooperation with Charter in a bid to "accelerate and enhance each company’s ability to participate in the national wireless marketplace."
The companies will focus on creating common operating platforms; technical standards development and harmonisation; device logistics; and emerging wireless technology platforms.
"By working with the team at Comcast, we can not only speed Charter’s entry into the marketplace, it will also enable us to provide more competition and drive costs down for consumers at a similar national scale as current wireless operators," said Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, in a statement.
As part of the partnership, Comcast and Charter have agreed to cooperate exclusively with one another for a year.
"Both of our companies have regional wireless businesses using the same 4G LTE network, and by working together our goal is to create even better experiences for our customers," said Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast.
Comcast and Charter will have to hit the ground running in order to keep pace with the rest of the U.S. mobile market.
T-Mobile US has proven itself a disruptive force, as evidenced by quarter after quarter of impressive customer additions. Rivals AT&T, Sprint and Verizon felt the squeeze in the first quarter, reporting declines in lucrative postpaid subscribers.
Launching mobile services will also help Comcast and Charter defend against T-Mobile’s Verizon’s and, in particular, AT&T’s aggressive moves into content. AT&T already owns DirecTV and is making good progress with signing customers up to its mobile streaming services. It is also in the process of acquiring media giant Time Warner Inc.