The long-fabled quad play may have finally arrived, and guess what, it doesn’t look anything like originally envisioned. Comcast launched wireless broadband service today in Portland Oregon combining the Sprint 3G network and the Clearwire 4G network. It’s a data-only service, and it represents the ultimate conclusion of major cable operators regarding the quad play: the next-gen service bundle doesn’t need to include wireless voice.
Wireless broadband is a natural extension of fixed-line Internet service. In the short term it literally extends the reach of the broadband connection, but in the longer term it enables new cross-platform capabilities. Data revenues are also where the growth money is. A snapshot last August (the last time I looked closely) showed ARPU for wireless carriers continuing to go up, but only because of revenue from data services. Voice ARPU was on the decline.
Meanwhile, the new Comcast offering is noteworthy not just because it gets cable into the wireless biz (beyond Wi-Fi), but because it shows traction for WiMAX. And with Portland already showing signs of success for Clearwire, it’s probably a good bet for Comcast’s launch as well.
More coverage of today’s launch, including plans and pricing here: