Verizon Wireless and Comcast are betting on it. The companies will start selling each other’s services for the first time Tuesday under a new partnership, rolling out initially in the Pacific Northwest.
Comcast representatives will sell Xfinity packages inside eight Verizon Wireless stores in the Seattle region, to start. Customers in Seattle and Portland will be eligible for up to $300 to apply to the purchase of a smartphone or tablet when they sign up for qualifying packages of Comcast TV, Internet and phone service plus new Verizon Wireless service at the same time.
The partnership brings the U.S. wireless and cable giants closer together and aligns their interests without giving either an actual ownership stake in the other. Verizon and Comcast announced last month that they had reached a deal to sell each other’s services, at the same time Comcast and other cable companies sold $3.6 billion in wireless spectrum to Verizon.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to extend our services outside the home,” said Cathy Avgiris, a Comcast senior vice vice president and general manager who will be visiting Seattle from Comcast HQ in Philadelphia for the launch.
Why the Pacific Northwest? “We’ve launched a lot of new products in Seattle,” Avgiris said. “It’s a great, engaged customer base. It’s very tech-savvy, and we have a great employee base there that loves to be the first ones to market. Both Seattle and Portland work very well and very closely together, so it was a natural place for us to launch.”
Comcast’s call center in Fife, Wash., south of Seattle, will also be part of the initial launch, with representatives there selling Verizon Wireless services over the phone. Joint sales will be made through the Comcast and Verizon websites, as well.
Over time, the companies plan to roll the program out to more U.S. markets, although they aren’t giving a timeline.
The eight Seattle-area Verizon Wireless stores involved in the initial retail launch are in Woodinville, Everett, downtown Seattle, Southcenter, Northgate, Tacoma, Federal Way and Marysville, Wash.
Other Verizon Wireless stores in the Seattle and Portland areas will feature Comcast marketing materials pitching the joint deal, but in the initial stages of the program, customers there will need to call a toll-free number to buy an Xfinity package.
As part of the joint offer, the companies will give between $100 and $300 to customers in the form of a Visa Prepaid Card, intended to be applied to a smartphone or tablet purchase. The amount depends on the level of Xfinity service a customer buys. The deal will initially be available only to people who live in Seattle or Portland or the surrounding areas.
The joint offer is aimed at new Comcast customers, requiring the purchase of a new, qualifying two-year Xfinity agreement with Comcast, and a separate two-year wireless agreement with Verizon Wireless, including activation of a smartphone or tablet.
To qualify for the prepaid card, a customer needs to purchase the Comcast and Verizon services within 14 days of each other. The initial joint offer is slated to end in May.