Comcast’s new mobile service is a good deal, but maybe not enough

Comcast thinks so has an answer to cutting cables: to get into the mobile wireless network business. But that may not be enough to stop its traditional cable customers from rushing into online video.

Today, the company announced that it will launch its own mobile phone and internet service called Xfinity Mobile. The service, slated for launch in mid-2017, will work on Verizon’s cellular network as well as Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots, and will only be available to existing Comcast customers.

Comcast has been planning this network for years. He first noted its wholesaler deal with Verizon in 2011. But it’s hard to ignore the timing of today’s announcement. The plan follows AT&T’s launch last year of a streaming TV service called DirecTV Now, which puts the company in direct competition with Comcast’s cable TV services. It appears that Internet service providers will continue to engage in the battle of consolidation to gain the advantage over each other.

And for good reason. Pay TV companies compete with many online video services — from Netflix and Hulu to Dish Network’s Sling TV and Google’s YouTubeTV — and the industry would have lost 1.7 million customers last year, its biggest drop to date. Meanwhile, competitive pricing from T-Mobile and Sprint is crushing AT&T and Verizon. Comcast’s offer could, in theory, help prevent its TV subscribers from turning to AT&T or other companies offering Internet and mobile services. And by partnering with Comcast, Verizon could keep customers on its network instead of seeing them go for a lower-cost competitor.

So, if you are a Comcast customer, should you sign up for this awesome package? Whether this is an economical offer for you will depend on your habits.

Unbundling

Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile unlimited plan will cost $ 65 per line — or $ 45 per line if a customer purchases one of Comcast’s premium TV / Internet plans — and the pay-per-gig option will cost $ 12. $ per gig of data. A Comcast spokesperson said the company’s own streaming services would not be “rated,” which means they will count toward your data usage. So even if you watch NBC shows using the Xfinity Stream app, it still counts as data. You’ll be able to switch between unlimited and month-to-month pay-per-go at no additional cost, so if you think you’re going to go over five gigs a month, you should upgrade to unlimited. But if you’re someone who carefully monitors data usage (or doesn’t use a lot of data), you should be able to keep your cost per line below $ 65 per month.

A spokesperson said Comcast won’t slow down your video feeds, which other providers, such as T-Mobile, have done in the past. But as with most unlimited data plans, there’s a catch: If you use more than 20GB in a month, you might see slower speeds while using busy cell towers.

Comcast’s offering is competitive, but wireless data prices are dropping rapidly. Today, Sprint announced new unlimited data pricing of $ 50 per month for one line and significant discounts for additional lines. T-Mobile’s unlimited plan costs $ 70 for one line, or $ 75 if you want to stream high-definition video. Verizon’s unlimited plan costs $ 80 per month for one line. AT & T’s unlimited plan costs $ 90 and now includes HBO for free (it also offers a $ 60 per month unlimited plan that limits video streams to DVD quality instead of high definition and without HBO).

Agree or disagree

Even if you get your broadband through Comcast, it may still be cheaper for you to keep that standalone home broadband service, purchase an unlimited plan from Sprint or T-Mobile, and get a separate subscription to one. streaming service.

For example, an unlimited data line on Sprint, Sling TV’s “Blue” service level with the HBO add-on, and Comcast’s 25Mbps standalone service should cost you a total of $ 155 before taxes and fees. Comcast’s X1 Starter Doubleplay package, which includes 100MB of internet and over 140 channels (but no HBO), costs $ 120 per month before taxes and fees. still clear which Xfinity plans will be eligible for unlimited plans at $ 45 per month). And if you need multiple unlimited data lines, you’ll likely save a lot of money with Sprint.

However, there are other reasons why you might want to accept his offer. You might prefer Verizon’s network to Sprint or T-Mobile, for example. Or you might want the faster speeds that come with the Doubleplay pack. Ultimately, it depends on your needs and preferences. Comcast’s pricing is probably the best deal if you don’t use a lot of wireless data and just can’t live without traditional pay TV service and all the channels and options that come with it. You may also prefer a plan if you regularly watch enough TV or steamed videos to exceed your broadband service provider‘s data threshold (1TB for Comcast or 300GB for AT&T).

Prices fluctuate as new players enter the market. More consolidation could make a big difference as well. If T-Mobile and Sprint merged, for example, you might start to see wireless data prices pick up again. Alternatively, if Dish acquires one of these two mobile carriers, it could start offering its own bundles that could drive prices further down. But for now, in this increasingly deregulated space, Comcast has just given its customers another pretty decent package to choose from from the bunch.

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