Comcast: Mobile Voice, Video In The Cards


Comcast is launching its first wireless high-speed Internet service this week in Portland, Ore., and eventually the cable company expects to provide mobile voice and video to subscribers as well.

"Over time, we would want our customers to be able to take all their information, entertainment and communications services ‘on the go,' so to speak," said Cathy Avgiris, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager for wireless and voice services. "But you can't do them all at the same time."

Initially, the Comcast High-Speed 2go service will provide download speeds up to 4 Mbps over Clearwire's WiMax network footprint, and includes a nationwide plan with access through Sprint Nextel's 3G network with downloads up to 1.5 Mbps.

"This is the first product we're launching. This is step one," Avgiris said. "It's a natural extension to our existing Internet service."

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.

On the video front, Avgiris noted that Comcast's On-Demand Online initiative will offer cable TV programming to PCs over the Web.

"That's the first way we're enabling a customer to enjoy content somewhere other than TV," she said.

Comcast is pricing the mobile broadband service to attract customers that have not bought Comcast's Internet service, according to Avgiris.

The operator's Fast Pack Metro with 12-Mbps home Internet service and WiMax service is $49.99 per month for the first 12 months, and includes a free Wi-Fi 802.11g home router. (After the one-year introductory rate, the price goes up to $72.95 per month.) Fast Pack Nationwide, $69.99 per month with the 12-Mbps wired broadband ($92.95 after 12 months), adds nationwide 3G mobile network access through Sprint.

As for data-usage limits, Avgiris said, "in the wireless world customers are used to talking about usage." Sprint's monthly limit for 3G wireless data usage is 5 Gigabytes, with additional usage billed at 10 cents per megabyte.

On the WiMax side, Avgiris said Comcast will use Clearwire's terms of service. Clearwire does not include a specific usage limit, but says it will monitor the network and will notify or potentially cut off subscribers who are using a "disproportionate amount of available resources."

Avgiris, one of Multichannel News' 2007 Wonder Women, assumed responsibility for Comcast's wireless services around the beginning of this year.