May 2, 2012
Verizon Wireless and Comcast will begin marketing and selling each other's services in the Twin Cities, saying they want to offer customers one-stop shopping for both.
The partnership gives customers of Comcast's video, high-speed Internet access or phone service a chance to buy mobile phone service, too, for the first time, but that will not be part of a formal "quadruple-play" bundle, spokeswomen for both companies said Monday, April 30.
The deal comes as Verizon Wireless is seeking regulatory approval to buy broadcast spectrum licenses from Comcast and other cable companies so it can expand its mobile data services. The $3.6 billion deal also calls for Verizon Wireless to sell services for the cable companies.
Critics have called the deal anti-competitive and the Federal Communications Commission is studying the matter. Verizon Wireless has offered to sell off spectrum in the 700 megahertz-band range if regulators sign off on the cable deal.
Without waiting for regulatory approval, the nation's largest wireless carrier and its largest cable company rolled out the cross-selling offer in five other markets Monday besides the Twin Cities: Atlanta; Chicago, the rest of Illinois and northwest Indiana; Colorado, Kansas City, Mo.; and Salt Lake City. The two telecommunications giants launched the program earlier this year in Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Seattle.
The partnership gives Comcast access to 23 Verizon Wireless stores in the Twin Cities area that fall within Comcast's cable footprint, Comcast spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert said.
At first glance, the companies' services don't appear to overlap, but Verizon Wireless has a fast 4G wireless service in the Twin Cities that can deliver broadband Internet as fast as some land-line services.
Some technology observers have speculated that customers may drop a land-line broadband service in favor of 4G mobile broadband for home and travel.
"I think it's about offering another option to the customer," Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Karen Smith said.
"This is about the best in-home video communications experience with Comcast and the best out-of-the-home mobile experience with Verizon," Comcast spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert said.
To promote the partnership, Comcast and Verizon Wireless are offering incentives, including pre-paid Visa cards valued at between $50 and $300, depending upon what the customers order. - Leslie Brooks Suzakamo, Twin Cities Pioneer Press
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