Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) announced an agreement to explore potential opportunities for operational cooperation in their respective wireless businesses to accelerate and enhance each company's ability to participate in the national wireless marketplace.
The companies, which have each separately activated a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) reseller agreement with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), have agreed to explore working together in a number of potential operational areas in the wireless space, including: creating common operating platforms; technical standards development and harmonization; device forward and reverse logistics; and emerging wireless technology platforms. Additionally, the companies have agreed to work only together with respect to national mobile network operators, through potential commercial arrangements, including MVNOs and other material transactions in the wireless industry, for one year.
Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter, said, "At Charter, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us in the wireless space. Within our footprint, our network is perfectly suited to provide the data-rich wireless services that customers are increasingly demanding. By working with the team at Comcast, we can not only speed Charter's entry into the marketplace, it will also enable us to provide more competition and drive costs down for consumers at a similar national scale as current wireless operators. We look forward to working with Comcast through this innovative arrangement and bringing our focus on superior products and services, craftsmanship and quality customer care to the wireless space."
"We're looking forward to launching Xfinity Mobile to our customers in the coming weeks and are excited about this opportunity to work with Charter to explore ways we can make our respective wireless initiatives more efficient and cost effective," said Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast. "Both of our companies have regional wireless businesses using the same 4G LTE network, and by working together our goal is to create even better experiences for our customers."
The companies plan to file an 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that contains their agreement.
In other Comcast news, the company has launched Xfinity xFi, a personalized WiFi platform that provides a digital dashboard for customers to set up their home WiFi network, find their password, see what devices are connected, troubleshoot issues, set parental controls and even pause WiFi access on their home network during dinner or bedtime.
xFi can be controlled via a mobile app (available for iOS and Android), website and on the TV with the X1 voice remote. xFi is now available to the 10 million Xfinity Internet customers with a compatible Xfinity WiFi device - the xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Gateway - and comes at no extra cost.
"The adoption and use of connected devices has grown dramatically, and Comcast has created a solution that makes it easy to control and manage them," said Eric Schaefer, senior vice president of Internet and communications services for Comcast. "xFi is a personalized home WiFi experience that gives customers the fastest speeds, best coverage and ultimate control in their homes. And it's a platform that will allow us to bring future innovations to our customers, address common pain points and vastly improve the way millions of people interact with their home WiFi network."
As part of the xFi launch, Comcast is renaming its most common wireless gateway device. The xFi-enabled device that is in 10 million homes today will now be called the "xFi Wireless Gateway." The company is also introducing an "xFi Advanced Gateway" to customers on the fastest speed tiers. The xFi Advanced Gateway will be the primary device Comcast uses to provide 1 Gbps speeds - it is designed to deliver gigabit speeds over WiFi and to support Xfinity Voice, home security and automation applications.
Comcast expects the number of xFi-ready homes to increase to about 15 million by the end of 2017. Later this year, Comcast plans to launch no-configuration, adaptive xFi pods that can be paired with either the xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Gateway, to help extend WiFi coverage within the home.
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