Comcast Boots Up 3G-Only Option

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) looks to be fishing from a larger pond of potential wireless data customers after launching a 3G-only option for its High-Speed 2go service in five markets: Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; Seattle; Houston, Texas; and Boston.

Comcast is tapping into Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s network and data cards for its new 3G-only "Nationwide" service. Comcast is also giving these markets -- save for Boston -- access to proto-4G mobile WiMax service packages that piggyback on the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) network.

A Comcast spokeswoman said the MSO plans to offer the 3G-only option in other markets, but didn't say when or where. However, Comcast already offers 4G/3G High-Speed 2go services in Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, and Tacoma and Bellingham, Wash., so go ahead and chalk those up as near-term candidates for Comcast's 3G-only play.

Although consumers can buy Comcast's 3G service standalone, the MSO is pushing a bigger bundle that includes its 12-Mbit/s (downstream) cable modem service. That package, called Fast Pack, sells for as low as $54.99 per month with a one-year contract. As a "bolt-on," the 3G-only service runs $40 per month for customers that already have Comcast's cable modem service, and $60 if they don't.

The new option now gives Comcast a total of three wireless data packages: High-Speed 2go Metro (WiMax only), High-Speed 2go Nationwide (3G only), and High-Speed 2go Nationwide Preferred (both). Comcast also offers a wireline Fast Pack bundle with all of those.

Comcast execs have previously said that High-Speed 2go brought them a bounty of former DSL subscribers in the service's early days, but has yet to reveal how many mobile Internet subscribers it's been able to sign on.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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