Leading U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp said on Wednesday it plans to offer subscribers the option to watch their favorite TV shows on mobile devices through its new wireless Internet service.
The company is also exploring adding a voice option to the wireless package that would put it in more direct competition with mobile phone providers like AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.
Comcast recently started rolling out its wireless Internet services in some U.S. cities as part of a joint venture with Clearwire Corp, which uses WiMax technology.
It will be bundling the wireless service with its home Internet package and could eventually include its On Demand Online service, which will let subscribers watch cable shows on the Web.
I can envision sometimes in the future (On Demand Online) having a wireless component, Comcast Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference.
As more consumers increasingly expect to be able to watch video on their home personal computers and on wireless devices such as Apple Inc's iPod and iPhone, cable companies are seeking ways to ensure they do not lose subscribers to free or cheaper On Demand Web services.
Instead the cable companies are collaborating with content providers to let paying TV subscribers watch shows instantly via the Web at no extra charge
Angelakis said there have been discussions about delivering voice products over the next generation of high speed wireless data services -- so-called fourth generation (4G) -- but said it is still too early to reveal details.
If Comcast was to launch wireless voice services on the Clearwire network, it would see a return of the cable company to the mobile phone sector which it exited last year after the collapse of a previous cable company joint venture with wireless operator Sprint Nextel Corp.
Sprint is also a member of the joint venture with Clearwire as well as other cable companies including Time Warner Cable Inc.
On Nasdaq, Comcast edged up 16 cents to $17.58, while Clearwire rose 40 cents to $9.22 at mid-afternoon.