Comcast’s new wireless service goes live for current Xfinity subscribers
Why it matters to you
Comcast wants to supply your smartphone internet via Xfinity Mobile, a new wireless plan for its current cable and internet subscribers.
Comcast already pipes internet into millions of homes, and now it wants to take its service to the airwaves. In April, the media giant announced the details of a new service, Xfinity Mobile, that will compete toe-to-toe with Google Fi, US Cellular, and incumbents like AT&T and T-Mobile. Now it appears the company is in the initial stages of launching the service nationwide.
If you’re already an Xfinity subscriber, you can head to the company’s new mobile website now to get started. The service is available in all markets in which Comcast already operates.
Xfinity Mobile features an unlimited data, talk, and text plan starting at $65 a month for up to five lines ($45 per line for customers with Comcast’s top X1 TV packages), or $12 per GB a month a la carte. The unlimited option has been reduced to $45 a month through July 31 for the network’s first customers.
A combination of Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hot spots and Verizon’s network will supply coverage, and, as with Google’s Fi technology, phones will automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular depending on network conditions. Xfinity Mobile customers have their choice of the iPhone, 7, 6S, and SE series, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S7 series, and the LG X Power.
Sign-ups have been restricted to Comcast’s 25 million subscribers at launch, which the company said is to ensure a “high level” of customer service. Xfinity Mobile subscribers will be able to get in touch with reps via text and “other means,” Comcast said.
The pricing is in line with the competition — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint offer plans ranging from $50 a month for a single line to $90 a month. And that’s no mistake. “We believe we have very competitive unlimited plans,” Greg Butz, president of Comcast’s mobile business, told Reuters.
With this launch, Comcast becomes the first cable mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — in other words, the first wireline internet provider to buy capacity on other wireless carriers’ networks.
“The lines between wired and wireless networks are blurring,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told Fortune. “For Comcast […] being a wireless operator isn’t optional. All network operators are going to be in the wireless business whether they like it or not.”
It’s a logical step for Comcast, which faces declining revenue in the wake of an ongoing cable TV exodus. In August 2016, every major cable TV company, including DirecTV, Comcast, and Character, lost subscribers. A collective 812,000 U.S. customers canceled their pay TV subscriptions, and there were 1.4 million fewer cable subscribers in the quarter overall compared to the same period a year ago.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. A forecast from analysts at SNL Kagan projects that broadband subscriptions will increase by 8 million over the next decade, heading off an expected 1.5 percent decline in traditional TV subscriptions. But Comcast’s not taking chances.
And Comcast isn’t the only company in this position. Charter Communications is also said to be launching a wireless service next year. And AT&T, which owns satellite provider DirecTV, debuted an internet TV package — DirecTV Now — earlier this year.
Article originally published on 04-06-2017 by Kyle Wiggers. Updated on 05-17-2017 by Adam Ismail: Added news that Xfinity Mobile has been launched.