Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales
Both MSOs plan to stop selling Clearwire service to subscribers in about six months. Not that there are many subs to speak of. Comcast has about 30,000 to go along with Time Warner Cable's 27,000. Clearwire ended the third quarter with 9.5 million subs, mostly coming way of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Clearwire's expected to reach the 10 million mark by year's end. (See Sprint Keeps Clearwire (& Unlimited) Alive.)
Comcast "will stop marketing its Xfinity 2Go product in six months and develop an orderly plan for transition" as it takes steps to wind down Comcast's Clearwire customers, an MSO spokesman said.
Update: Comcast told Light Reading Cable late Friday that the decision also factors in Xfinity 2Go's 3G products, not just Clearwire's WiMax products. "We will wind down the customers on the Sprint/Clearwire 3G/4G data cards within the next six months," the MSO said.
A TW Cable spokesman noted that its wireless offering "can become exclusive to Verizon in as soon as six months," but expects to continue to service its remaining Clearwire customers after that time.
Bright House Networks , another Clearwire investor and participant in the SpectrumCo LLC joint venture that struck the new deal with Verizon Wireless on Friday, has not launched Clearwire services.
Despite the decision to sever the wholesale relationship, Comcast's, TW Cable's and Bright House's stakes in Clearwire remain intact. Clearwire declined to comment.
The MSOs are expected to begin selling Verizon services sometime in 2012, and offer that as an option for their existing Clearwire customers. A person close to the deal says Comcast intends to announce four test markets with Verizon Wireless next year.
MVNO timing and tech J.V. tidbits
The SpectrumCo MSOs (Comcast, Bright House and TW Cable) have the option to pursue an MVNO deal that would let them offer their own branded services (including voice, data and texting) on the Verizon Wireless network. Comcast Cable President Neil Smit noted in a blog post Friday that his company could pursue the MVNO option in about four years.
In the meantime, there's an agency deal in place that will let Comcast sell Verizon Wireless products with its triple-, double- and single-play service packages, while also allowing Verizon Wireless to sell Comcast products at its stores and other sales channels. That's expected to ramp up starting in 2012.
Also tied in is an "innovation technology joint venture" to be 50 percent owned by the Comcast, TW Cable and Bright House Networks, and 50 percent owned by Verizon Wireless. Comcast said that Sam Schwartz, president of Comcast Converged Products, will lead the venture's strategic development, with Tony Heyman, the recently named vice president of new market development at Verizon Wireless, heading up operations and distribution.
The unit will also have the ability to license products and services to other cable and satellite service providers.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable