Comcast, Charter to cooperate as threats from wireless grow

FILE - This Wednesday, March 29, 2017, file photo shows a sign outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. Cable operators Comcast and Charter Communications have agreed to form a wireless partnership in order to strengthen their positions in the rapidly growing sector. Comcast and Charter Communications Inc. said Monday, May 8, that their partnership will give customers more choice and competitive prices. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Cable operators Comcast and Charter Communications said Monday that they will work together as they prepare to offer cellphone plans to customers.

As part of the deal, Comcast and Charter agreed that they wouldn’t buy other wireless companies for one year, or make related deals without consulting each other first.

The companies said that while they’ll offer wireless services separately to customers, they’ll work together on behind-the-scenes matters like customer billing and managing the platform customers use to order devices. The cable and internet providers said the agreement will save money and help them compete with national wireless providers.

For the most part, Comcast and Charter aren’t direct competitors, as their service territories don’t overlap. The bigger threat comes from the likes of Verizon and AT&T, which are able to offer TV, internet and home phone services, along with wireless.

To compete, Philadelphia-based Comcast expects to launch its own wireless plan , Xfinity Mobile, in the next several weeks. Charter, based in Stamford, Connecticut, expects to introduce its unnamed service next year. Both wireless services will lease Verizon’s network.

To reduce costs, Comcast and Charter will need to try to encourage customers to use Wi-Fi hotspots over cellular whenever possible. By working together, the two companies can explore way to let customers use each other’s hotspots when they travel.