In a sweeping strategic move, Comcast Corp. and other cable companies have agreed to sell cable-owned wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless for $3.6 billion and will jointly market products.
The deal seems to solve Verizon Wireless' problems related to a scarcity of wireless spectrum for future mobile-device growth and could partly solve the cable industry's issues related to a lack of wireless offerings for its customers.
Wireless has been one of the holes in the product offerings at Philadelphia-based Comcast, which has a stake in wireless operator Clearwire and experimented with WIFI hot spots.
According to a statement, Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks jointly own the wireless spectrum being sold to Verizon Wireless. Comcast owns 64 percent of the venture and would receive $2.3 billion from the deal with Verizon Wireless.
Comcast's stock was soaring in pre-market trading, and was up 2.13 percent, to $23.05, minutes after market trading opened.
Time Warner Cable Inc. owns 31.2 percent and is to receive about $1.1 billion; Bright House Networks L.L.C. owns 5.3 percent and would receive about $189 million.
Cable companies have long had ambitions to get into wireless, and some of them have linked up with Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. to offer service. Lately, there has been speculation that the cable companies would invest in ailing No. 3 and 4 carriers Sprint or T-Mobile USA to gain access to the wireless market.
The link-up with No. 1 carrier Verizon Wireless and the sale of the spectrum appears to preclude that kind of deal.
The agreement also calls for the cable companies and Verizon Wireless - a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone - to sell each other's offerings. They also have formed a joint technology venture to integrate wirelike and wireless services.