Comcast quietly taps the iPhone ahead of Xfinity Mobile launch

Comcast Center's office in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
Comcast is looking to leverage the iPhone as it prepares to launch wireless service under the brand Xfinity Mobile.

Comcast is quietly partnering with Apple as it prepares to launch wireless service under the brand Xfinity Mobile.

The cable giant’s name has been added to behind-the-scenes—but publicly available—code that lists carrier bundles for the iPhone. The list of carrier bundles is used by iTunes and iPhones to determine whether the iPhone’s SIM is supported by a service provider with whom Apple has an agreement, then provisions the phone accordingly.

The iPhone’s latest list of carrier bundles includes “Verizon_Comcast_LTE_US,” and mentions the service “Xfinity Mobile.” A source pointed out the reference to FierceWireless, and a different source with knowledge of the matter confirmed that Comcast has indeed partnered with Apple ahead of the launch of Xfinity Mobile.

The updated code appears to be related to the release of an update for Apple’s iOS platform.

Comcast also appears to be testing wireless service for its employees, going so far as to establish a customer care line. A customer care representative picked up the call when FierceWireless called, then asked whether the caller was a Comcast employee. The representative declined to discuss the service.

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Comcast has made no secret of its wireless ambitions, of course, and it appears to be putting the finishing touches on its service before launching in the coming months. The company earlier this year reiterated its plans to deploy wireless service in 2017, vowing to roll out bundled offerings by the middle of the year.

Similarly, it should come as no surprise that Comcast is looking to leverage the popular iPhone as it prepares to come to market. The cable operator is looking to leverage its network of 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots and a 5-year-old MVNO agreement with Verizon to create a new revenue stream, and the iPhone is a must-have device for any newcomer looking to make a big splash in the U.S. wireless market.

“Another priority in 2017 is to launch our wireless product,” CEO Brian Roberts said in January during a quarterly earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “I would characterize our efforts and approach in the following way: One, we plan to include wireless in our multi-product bundles in a way that is designed to add value to our customers, improve our retention and ultimately benefit lifetime customer economics for us. Our offering will give customers access to a world-class wireless network benefiting from our Wi-Fi, with the best mobile devices and a simple, transparent experience, all for a great value.”