Comcast Launches Wireless Laptop Access in Portland

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 29, 2009

Comcast is dipping its toes into wireless services once more. On June 30, the nation’s largest cable services provider will start selling its own brand of high-speed wireless data service in Portland, Ore. The service will be provided via network of Clearwire, where Comcast is an investor.

In years past, Comcast had resold Sprint Nextel’s wireless calling plans under a brand called Pivot in a few markets including Portland. But these efforts hadn’t attracted as many users as Comcast hoped, and were eventually discontinued.

Tomorrow’s launch will mark yet another effort by Comcast to become a national player in wireless services. This time around, the company comes armed with Comcast High-Speed 2go service, which provides wireless Internet access via wireless data cards. Comcast will be selling the service bundled with one or more of its other offerings, such as at-home TV channels. And it’s offering pretty good prices. Existing Comcast customers may be able to sign up for the service for as little as $30 a month.

There’s also an attractively priced bundle: Comcast’s $49.99 a month Fast Pack Metro service includes Comcast’s 12 Mbps home Internet service, a free Wi-Fi router for mobility and extended coverage in the home, plus the wireless data card access. Clearwire currently offers a combination service of home Internet and a PC card for $70 a month. I am currently paying Verizon $40 a month just for my Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). So Comcast customers are getting a pretty good deal.

While these attractive prices don’t guarantee success, they should certainly help Comcast make more inroads into fixed Internet access, as well as to gain a toehold in wireless Web access on the go. Much will depend, of course, on whether the service will be promoted well enough. The service is expected to become available in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago by year-end.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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