Mergers & acquisitions

Comcast Subs Get a Taste of Verizon

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have wasted no time in launching a joint marketing program Tuesday that will enable the MSO to sell wireless service bundles initially in two markets: Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), along with Bright House Networks , Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and, most recently, Cox Communications Inc. , struck a multifaceted deal late in 2011 that included the sale of their respective Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum to Verizon Wireless for a combined $3.9 billion. That deal also gave the cable operators the option to sell wireless services under their own brand using the Verizon Wireless network: Comcast today becomes the first of the MSOs to unveil the fruits of that co-marketing agreement.

The initial Comcast promotion will offer Visa gift cards (worth $100 to $300) to customers who sign up for the Verizon Wireless/Comcast service bundles, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

A Comcast spokesman confirmed the market launches, noting that eight Verizon Wireless stores in Seattle will have Comcast staff on hand to walk consumers through the new offers. Marketing materials describing the cable/wireless bundles are being made available in other Verizon Wireless stores in that city, as well as in Portland.

Comcast and Verizon have also set up a toll-free number for potential customers and expect to launch co-branded micro sites later today.

The spokesman said Portland and Seattle were picked as the initial markets because they have strong track records of introducing new services and because both cities are considered tech-savvy. The MSO intends to offer Verizon Wireless bundles in additional markets later this year.

Why this matters
Comcast's initial launch of service bundles in two markets is the first step in what's expected to represent the MSO's long-term wireless strategy. It's already decided to halt the sale of WiMax services from erstwhile wireless partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR). (See Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales.)

The services bundling component is also getting off the ground before regulators bless the sale of AWS spectrum to Verizon Wireless, so it would appear that both sides are confident that they will get it done.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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