Comcast has notified Verizon of its intent to collect on its part of a bargain the pair shook hands on in 2011. Verizon got spectrum to expand its network, and Comcast sealed the rights to operate its own cell service off of the wireless carrier's infrastructure.
That's right, one of the nation's lowest ranked cable companies just took a major step towards becoming an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Essentially, it'd be a wireless carrier that offered its own calling plans and handset's bearing its brand.
Back in 2011, Verizon purchased AWS-1 (Advanced Wireless Service) spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications and BrightHouse Networks. In return, Verizon offered them the rights to operate on its networks.
Now it appears Comcast and others have come to collect. Verizon CEO Fran Shammo appeared to have tipped Comcast's plans when he spoke with investor's about his company's third quarter earnings report.
"Obviously the industry is moving," said Shammo. "Cable will do what they are going to do and we will do what we will do."
Part of the cable companies doing what they have to do just might be something Verizon would never do. As rumored over the past few months, it appears Comcast wants to launch the first network in which Wi-Fi is primary and cell towers are secondary.
"Wi-Fi will not replace LTE," said Shammo.
Comcast operates millions of Wi-Fi hotspots in major cities around the U.S. And while Verizon may not like the idea, those hotspots could successfully serve as the foundation of Comcast's network and the nation's top wireless carrier's cell tower could patch in the calling in rural areas.
Those Wi-Fi hotspots could also help with Comcast's ambitions for offering shared data plans, though those plans still rest in the realm of rumors for now.
Whether true or not, Comcast will need some enticing plans to pull customers out a pool polluted by its own bad reputation. As reported by the ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index), Comcast still has one of the worst customer service ratings in the U.S.
"The ACSI reports huge drops in customer satisfaction for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, following their failed merger," stated the ACSI in June 2015. "Already one of the lowest-scoring companies in the ACSI, Comcast sheds 10 percent to a customer satisfaction score of 54. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable earns the distinction as least-satisfying company in the Index after falling 9 percent to 51."