While we mainly hear about the four main wireless carriers whenever a new phone is released, there are many more providers out there than just Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Now an industry giant is looking to join the fray: Comcast.
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the cable TV giant will finally jump into the wireless phone market with an Xfinity Mobile service that had been previously reported. The move comes at a time when the lines between cable and telecommunications are becoming increasingly blurred, with AT&T recently launching the DirecTVNow streaming service and looking to merge with Time Warner, and Verizon rumored to be working on its own pay TV service.
The Journal’s report says that the service will be offered as part of a bundled package that looks to “retain customers and sell more of its other products into homes.” The service will be bolstered by tapping into Verizon’s existing network as part of an agreement the two companies signed more than five years ago.
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Philadelphia-based Comcast will utilize millions of Wi-Fi hotspots to help manage data traffic, similar to how Google Fi automatically shifts users between cellular and Wi-FI for faster speeds. Previous reports have said that Comcast will primarily rely on the hotspots, with Verizon being used as a fallback.
USA Today provides some additional details on the service, reporting that Xfinity Mobile customers will have two main options, an unlimited plan or a pay-as-you-go plan. The unlimited price will range from $45 per month (for pricey X1 customers) to $65 per month (for all other subscribers) per line up to five lines, and will include unlimited talk and text. The pay-as-you-go plan will cost $12 per GB of cellular data across all lines on an account.
Comcast’s wireless service will have nationwide coverage but is only expected to be offered to customers buying at least one of the company’s other offerings, such as cable or internet service, according to the report. Comcast told the Journal that their agreement with Verizon is “perpetual,” including any future upgrades Verizon may implement. Of note, rumors have been swirling about a potential merger between Verizon and Comcast.
This wouldn’t be Comcast’s first crack at wireless. Back in 2007 the company launched a joint venture with Sprint called Pivot, which offered a similar integrated service that combined cable, internet, land-line telephone service, and wireless into a single package. The $200 million partnership ended after about two years.
Wireless wars: Comcast doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to serving its customers’ needs, but any competition is good. As we’ve seen with the effects of T-Mobile’s Un-Carrier initiative, a small player can have a big impact on its competitors, and Comcast’s cable TV subscription base is big enough where its moves could have a ripple effect on the market. But as always, it remains to be seen if a new service, even one with a recognizable name, can make any headway.