Cable giant Comcast offers cellular plans on Verizon network

Allan Goodman
April 8, 2017

Verizon and AT&T do not include those fees in their advertised rates either, but T-Mobile does.

Cable television provider Comcast will start selling cellphone plans called Xfinity Mobile in the coming months, using a network it's leasing from Verizon.

Comcast announced the plans - hinted at for months - in NY on Thursday morning.

Comcast did not say how much it has invested in Xfinity Mobile or what kind of return it expects.

The ability to switch back and forth between unlimited service and data by the gig each month is a big differentiator for Comcast, compared with competitors. Users with Comcast's most expensive internet and TV bundles can add so-called unlimited wireless data for $45 a month; other customers will pay $65 a month.

Xfinity internet customers will be signed into their other Xfinity apps when using the Xfinity Mobile services, according to the company, making their user experience seamless.

In the call with investors today, Comcast executives said they're not out to gain major nationwide market share. "I would describe (the prices) as low but reasonable", said Craig Moffett, a telecom analyst with research firm MoffettNathanson. "It signals that their ambition is to use this service to mitigate [cable TV] churn as opposed to as a stand-alone profit opportunity". "But really for us, it's about the more services you can sell somebody the more they're going to be comfortable with your relationship".

Comcast did not respond to several email inquiries from eWEEK seeking additional comments about the new services. Only Comcast's existing customer will be able to access this luxury. At present, the company boasts an extensive public WiFi network consisting of almost 16 million hotspots. Xfinity Wi-Fi routers have both private and public Wi-Fi channels.

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For instance, the company talked about letting people attach and send videos and pictures via a simple long press on the composer. When you say something like "thank you" in a conversation, M will share a fun and relevant sticker that represents what you said.

Exhausted of bugging your family and friends for Wi-Fi passwords so you don't use up your wireless data?

There's no zero-rating. Comcast video will count against your data usage. The 24/7 throttling after 20GB could limit the amount Comcast has to pay Verizon.

Comcast is the fourth biggest spender on advertising in the USA, with an annual budget of $3.5 billion.

Comcast is hoping the attractive pricing for its wireless services will help reduce cable-cutting - the dread practice of consumers getting rid of their cable service and relying on over-the-air and streaming video. If the cable company executes well, though, it could emerge as a real threat over the next few years. Charter Communications is also said to be launching a wireless service next year.

Thanks to a silent partnership with Verizon, Comcast won't be forced to purchase spectrum and build its own network.

Strict confidentiality rules have prevented Comcast from saying what it did in the auction.

So what is Comcast's motivation to become a wireless carrier?

Comcast Mobile president Greg Butz acknowledges the issue. Comcast has something in store for everyone.

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