The lines between what companies provide for whom and for how long is certainly blurring these days, with takeovers running rampant and big companies swallowing up little ones like never before. That’s the case with Comcast, America’s largest cable TV operator, which began offering mobile phone service in Boston and Portland, Oregon, to little fanfare. The full on-demand suite of services are really available now only to Boston customers, so the folks in Portland must be feeling left out at the moment.
Comcast joins Time Warner and Cox, the next two largest cable companies, in the light-speed jump toward wireless services. The folks at Sprint Nextel are ecstatic because all three of those big cable companies have contracted to offer their wireless phone service over Sprint’s network. It’s a bit of a coup for Sprint, which finds itself trailing Cingular and Verizon in the U.S. in terms of mobile phone service.
The Comcast operation will eventually expand beyond Boston. The company says that many more markets will be available in the next year. Then, you can choose the Quadruple Play package and get your cable TV, home phone, mobile phone, and Internet connection from the same place. Much easier for them to conduct market research on exactly what you do.
The whole thing smacks of reverse engineering. AT&T and Verizon are about to roll out their TV services. Soon, you’ll be able to sign up for everything with just one company. My question at that point would be this: How hard will it be to switch providers down the road? And how long before there is only one provider left?