Consumers are enjoying a particularly competitive stretch between the major wireless companies, as they jockey to steal each other’s customers with better unlimited data deals.
But if some competition is good, more is (almost always) better. Please welcome Comcast to the scene.
The cable-and-content company announced on Thursday the launch of Xfinity Mobile, its service that will compete with the wireless likes of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
Comcast’s pitch is already very data-centric, as it ought to be. The company is boasting that its 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots, along with its deal to use some of Verizon’s top-of-the-line 4G LTE network, will make for a quality user experience.
With Xfinity Mobile, Comcast can now offer cable TV, internet, home phone, and wireless access. It’s a bundle that will compete with AT&T and Verizon, which have a big head start on wireless but are still behind in those other areas.
How can Comcast play catch up? By offering what (at least on first glance) appears to be a serious discount on wireless service to existing Comcast internet customers. If you’re already paying Comcast for Xfinity internet, you can get an unlimited data plan for $65 per month. It’s worth pointing out, however, that Comcast will start throttling speed after you’ve used 20 GB, which is lower than similar plans from other companies. A similar plan on Verizon is $80.
Comcast is also offering a “mix and match” family plan that lets some users pay for unlimited while others can pay $12 per gigabyte.
And if you already shell out the big bucks for Comcast’s upper-tier cable packages, an unlimited plan will be $45 per month.
Prices aside, Comcast’s wireless offering didn’t prove terribly impressive in part due to its reliance on Wi-Fi to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
“WiFi is a major selling point from Comcast’s perspective, but I’m very skeptical that it’ll be a big part of users’ experience, given how few hotspots Comcast actually has in places where people spend time out of residential neighborhoods, and the fact that WiFi is often now slower rather than faster than LTE,” wrote Jackdaw Research analyst Jack Dawson.
Comcast did not make it clear just when this service will launch, though it has been offering it to its employees for some time. Of course, T-Mobile CEO John Legere wouldn’t miss such an opportunity to crack a joke on Twitter.
For Comcast, Xfinity Mobile primarily serves as another way to squeeze value out of its existing customers. It may not rival AT&T or Verizon anytime soon, but Comcast doesn’t necessarily need it to.
“Comcast will likely sell this service to up to 10% of its base in the next couple of years, which will be a nice boost to its revenues and profits, but will make only a tiny dent in the overall US wireless market – 10% penetration of its broadband base would be just 2.5 million customers, which is less than the number of new customers the big four carriers added last quarter alone,” Dawson wrote.