The nation's two largest cable companies, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., are talking about cooperating on the wireless business as talks swirl about major telecommunications deals.
Comcast/Charter would focus on how to efficiently run a wireless business -- which many see as critical to the future for cable-TV companies because of smart phones and mobile TV -- to compete with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications, a source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday night.
Though Comcast and Charter call themselves regional cable-TV companies, their franchise areas include most of the major cities, including Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
Philadelphia-based Comcast and Stamford, Conn.-based Charter are expected to announce the talks Monday morning.
The companies also are expected to say that neither Comcast, the No. 1 cable-TV operator, nor Charter, the No. 2 cable-TV operator, would do a major wireless deal without the other's consent for a year.
The Comcast/Charter talks come as the rumor mill in the telecom industry has heated up with the pro-business Trump administration and the new head of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai.
Pai has indicated he would be friendlier to big telecom mergers than his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, under former President Obama. Wheeler opposed Comcast's $45 billion deal for Time Warner Cable, opening the door for Charter to buy it. Any prospective deal would face regulatory scrutiny and likely opposition from consumer groups and others.
An agreement between Comcast and Charter could be a significant setback for Verizon, which has said it would be interested in acquiring either Comcast or Charter as it has faced slowing growth in the maturing wireless industry. Now Verizon could not do a deal without the approval of Comcast and Charter for a year.
The Comcast/Charter talks would include negotiating prices for phones and other equipment and making the two companies' wireless systems compatible. Comcast is expected to launch its wireless product, Xfinity Mobile, in June. Charter also has said it would launch a wireless product.