Comcast recently reported that it lost 48,000 cable TV customers. This was an improvement from a year ago when it lost 81,000 cable customers, sure, but the trend is still bad news for pay-TV services. That said, it gained 156,000 new customers from broadband and corporate customers, most likely from a September acquisition of Contingent Network Services designed to help manage national accounts and create a new business unit to offer Fortune 1000 firms data services that would compete with AT&T and Verizon.
Now Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has indicated that the cable company plans on testing a mobile offering using Verizon Wireless’ service. Its’ agreement requires at least six months notice to Verizon before it can trial a product. While Comcast hasn’t made the decision to enter the wireless market, this would present an interesting development in the mobile space.
Wireless services would be an attractive area for Comcast, with potential for significant new growth that would be complimentary to its broadband business. Comcast could price its wireless service comparable to Verizon and AT&T, but that would make it difficult to gain market share. Alternatively, Comcast could piggyback on its Wi-Fi services to undercut AT&T and Verizon on price.
While some enterprises may not see immediate impact upon Comcast entering the wireless market, there could be some enterprises with local fleets or service teams that could stand to benefit. Organizations with a dependable, significant Comcast presence could find a Wi-Fi first approach with lower pricing to be very attractive.
Before enterprises jump into another Comcast offering, however, a key consideration should be billing. Like many carriers, Comcast is a company that was cobbled together through acquisitions. Like the carriers, it also presents itself as having a unified enterprise offering, but anyone that is involved in handling the bills knows this is not the case.
Comcast and other cable companies use a wide range of different legacy billing systems. Paper and PDF formats make it difficult to automate processing, validation and chargeback of expenses on bills. Enterprises would be wise to ask what formats Comcast will use for bills and if they will be consistent across regions. Perhaps the most likely outcome from this test will be a decision by Comcast to acquire T-Mobile or Sprint in an effort to really expand into the wireless market. If this happens, it will create a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon which would be good for the enterprise market.