Cable Operators

Comcast Wireless Broadband Ready For Liftoff

6/29/2009 3:14 PM Eastern

Comcast expects to debut its high-speed wireless data service -- dubbed "High-Speed 2go" -- Tuesday in Portland, Ore., through its partnerships with Clearwire and Sprint Nextel.

The cable operator announced it will sell two plans, bundled with wired broadband service: "Metro," which provides service only within the WiMax metropolitan area footprint provided by Clearwire; and "Nationwide," which will switch between Clearwire's WiMax service and Sprint's national 3G network.

After the initial launch this week in Portland, the MSO expects to offer wireless broadband in markets including Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia before the end of 2009.

Comcast invested $1.05 billion in Clearwire, which formed in November 2008 by combining the 4G assets of Sprint. Other Clearwire investors include Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Intel and Google.

"Comcast High-Speed 2go now gives consumers the best of both worlds, the ‘fastest fast' at home and on the go," Cathy Avgiris, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager for wireless and voice services, said in a statement. "In today's world, consumers don't want to be disconnected for even a minute and now Comcast provides wired and wireless access - a combination consumers won't want to live without."

Clearwire has launched home and mobile WiMax in Portland, Atlanta and Baltimore, with plans to launch the service in 80 markets reaching up to 120 million people by the end of 2010.

Comcast will market a "Fast Pack" that combines both wired and wireless high-speed Internet service. Both new and existing customers will be eligible for special bundled pricing, with triple-play customers able to sign up for 4G wireless service starting at an additional $30 per month.

The Fast Pack Metro service, $49.99 per month, includes Comcast's 12-Mbps home Internet service, a free Wi-Fi home router, and 4G service that will provide up to 4-Mbps download speeds. Fast Pack Nationwide, $69.99 per month, adds nationwide 3G mobile network access through Sprint.

Comcast will use laptop cards from China's ZTE for the WiMax-only Metro offering, and will provide dual-mode WiMax/3G cards from Franklin Wireless for customers of the Nationwide plans.

Comcast has set up a Web site, www.comcast.com/highspeed2go, with additional pricing and service information. The operator also will sell High-Speed 2go to small and midsize businesses.

Clearwire has said it will evaluate adding mobile voice to its product line in 2010, and the company has discussed working with its cable partners to offer mobile voice services and handsets as well.