Comcast is going to launch a wireless service next year

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
Business Insider

Comcast plans to launch its own wireless service in 2017, CEO Brian Roberts said Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference.

Since Comcast doesn’t have its own cell towers, it’ll rely on Wi-Fi networks for connectivity. Users will be switched to Verizon’s network when they’re away from Wi-Fi.

A few smaller carriers already offer services like this, with options including Google’s Project Fi and Republic Wireless. Those companies work as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, and pay major wireless carriers like Sprint or T-Mobile to use their cell towers when users aren’t connected to Wi-Fi.

MVNOs tend to be cheaper than traditional wireless carriers, offering benefits like the option to pay for only the data you use.

While a potential windfall for Verizon, the move should also help Comcast better compete with AT&T, which merged with DirecTV and is able to offer combined wireless, home broadband, and TV packages.

It’s unclear how much Comcast’s service will cost, which devices it’ll be compatible with, and whether it’ll be available across the US.

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request from Business Insider for more details on how its wireless service will work.