Comcast's New Wireless Service Feels Like a Trick

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07 April, 2017

While wireless carriers are contending with slowed growth and a cutthroat price war, cable companies like Comcast are navigating a saturated pay-TV business under assault from cord-cutting and affordable online video options. Comcast also has a unique offer - the ability to pay just $12 a gigabyte, meaning some customers who don't use a lot of data can opt for a much cheaper plan than what is offered by major carriers.

Today the folks at Comcast have announced Xfinity Mobile, a wireless service that's sold by Comcast but uses Verizon's 4G LTE network for data.

Comcast holds rights to lease access to Verizon's mobile network on a wholesale basis as the result of a radio spectrum sale to Verizon in 2011. Additionally, each line will cost $65 per line for all-you-can eat data. The feature is an example of zero-rating, where internet mobile and home providers give favorable treatment to their own services. In other words, Comcast is using this confusing new pricing structure and good-seeming wireless service to keep people trapped in the Comcast ecosystem.

But Google Fi hasn't caught on, in part because it works with only a few Google-branded phones and uses networks from T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, which aren't as robust as Verizon's.

Otherwise, unlimited talk, text and data (subject to throttling at 20 GB) is available for $65/line with multiple options for discounting depending on customers' existing level of Comcast service. For that to happen, Comcast will have to prove that it can make Wi-Fi handoffs happen without interrupting customers' connectivity.

The service will be available to customers starting in the second quarter, Comcast said.

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The service is due to launch by the end of June. Xfinity Mobile will only be available to Comcast's existing customers - the company's goal here is to build an even bigger bundle for existing TV, landline, and internet subscribers.

Diving into the details of the new offering, Comcast is partnering with Apple, LG and Samsung for mobile handsets and giving customers the option of paying for their phones upfront or signing up for monthly payments. "Comcast clearly sees Xfinity Mobile as a profit maker not as a market disrupter", he says. Phones on the Comcast network will automatically connect to these hotspots when in range without the user having to select the Wi-Fi network or enter a password, Comcast said. In August 2016, every major cable TV company, including DirecTV, Comcast, and Character, lost subscribers.

"Comcast understands the need to get back into the wireless business for their own survival".

-No Penalties - Easily switch back-and-forth between data options at no cost.

Comcast Mobile president Greg Butz acknowledges the issue. Verizon has doubled down on digital media as well, with plans to acquire Yahoo's (YHOO - Free Report) core business.

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