Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), facing pressure in its core business, said on Thursday it is launching a wireless service with an unlimited data plan, making it the first major USA cable provider to enter the highly competitive wireless market.
Importantly, Comcast Xfinity Mobile is only available to the cable company's existing subscribers.
USA wireless carriers Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N , AT&T Inc T.N , T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.O and Sprint Corp S.N have recently offered unlimited monthly plans ranging from $50 to $90 for a single line.
Most Comcast customers will be able to subscribe to an Xfinity Mobile plan with unlimited data for $65 per month per line, but customers with some of the more expensive X1 TV plans will be able to get it for only $45 per month. Comcast wireless pricing also will offer some unique options, including an option to pay on a per-gigabit basis, no access fees, an unlimited offering and the ability to switch plans in the middle of a billing period.
Xfinity Mobile will offer the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, - both also available in (PRODUCT) RED variants - iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE as well as the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge or the LG X power. The list of carrier bundles is used by iTunes and iPhones to determine whether the iPhone's SIM is supported by a service provider with whom Apple has an agreement, then provisions the phone accordingly.
Comcast is an infamously ruthless company. That's part of why Comcast is emphasizing this as a WiFi-first service.
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Potential Xfinity Mobile subscribers will also benefit from Comcast's other service offerings. Even with data usage, Comcast won't support seamless handoffs between its WiFi footprint and Verizon's cellular network. "How we approach the marketplace will be in packaging and bundles, and we'll approach our existing customer base", said Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable. However, Comcast plans to offer competitive pricing for the service.
Xfinity Mobile isn't meant to be a direct competitor to market leaders like AT&T and Verizon, as the service will only be available as a bundle add-on for existing Xfinity subscribers. Some analysts say Comcast could use its new spectrum to renegotiate its network leasing deal with Verizon on better terms. There's an option for customers to pay per gigabyte at a price of $12/GB, for those who wish to only pay for what they feel they'll use.
However, Comcast may wait to see if Sprint and T-Mobile merge, which could ease fierce competition in the wireless industry.
So there's Comcast's entry into the wireless market. Other wireless operators have been rolling out unlimited data plans, so Comcast is entering an already crowded field. Verizon's network is very, very good. Instead, Comcast is telling users that its network uses the "most reliable 4G LTE network".
When will Xfinity Mobile be available? You can either choose to buy the devices upfront or choose a 24-month payment plan, but you cannot bring your own device to the service to start, at least not now; Comcast may add that option in the future.