Comcast Takes The Plunge Into Wireless With Launch Of Xfinity Mobile

Cable giant Comcast unveiled the details around its highly anticipated wireless service, Xfinity Mobile, which promises to shake up the wireless market, executives said during a live webcast Thursday.

Xfinity Mobile will rely on a combination of Verizon's 4G LTE network via an MVNO agreement between the two companies, and Comcast's 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots. Comcast executives said the service, which can be bundled with its cable, internet and landline voice services, will give customers a better wireless experience for less money.

The consumer-first offering will be available within the next two months, but Comcast is not unveiling a business services play for Xfinity Mobile at this time, Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channels for Comcast Business, told CRN.

[Related: Comcast Set To Launch Wireless Service In 2017, Leasing Airwaves From Verizon]

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While Xfinity Mobile will not be available through the channel today, Greg Butz, president of Comcast Mobile, said the company has the ability to extend the service to business customers, calling it a "future growth opportunity."

Rob Chamberlin, co-founder and executive vice president of Berkeley, Calif.-based DataXoom, a mobility-focused solution provider that partners with the industry-leading U.S. wireless providers, said when the service does become available through Comcast's business service unit, it will be an interesting product for traditional wireline resellers looking to expand their portfolios.

By targeting its existing customer base, the wireless service could help boost customer retention rates, according to Chamberlin.

"Comcast is clearly missing a wireless offering in their portfolio today," he said.

Michael Cavanagh , Comcast's senior e xecutive vice president and CFO, said that aside from financing smartphones the service is "capital light" for Comcast and he expects Xfinity Mobile to boost customer loyalty.

"We like the business we have … what we are looking to do is introduce an interesting new product that has a lot of quality for a great value."

Comcast is confident that it won't have to create a separate marketing campaign for its new wireless service, and instead will be able to tap into its existing customer base of 29 million. Dave Watson, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said the company is taking a different approach to the "hyper-competitive" market by positioning wireless as another Xfinity product that will complement its existing cable practice.

"All we are doing is adding a product to the bundle," Comcast's Butz said.

Because 80 percent of smartphone data is consumed over Wi-Fi, its focus on connected customers via hotspots -- in addition to Verizon's 4G network -- is a valuable approach for customers, according to Comcast's Watson.

Xfinity Mobile users near a Comcast hot spot will be automatically authenticated and moved onto W-Fi, helping customers save money, Butz said. Customers will only pay for the data they use and will be able to toggle between cellular and Wi-Fi data through the new Xfinity Mobile app.

The wireless plans include unlimited talk, text and data, which is subject to throttling at 20 GB, for $65 per line with discounting available for some existing Comcast customers purchasing Comcast's larger packages. For example, triple play bundle customers could have access to $45 per line. The pay-by-the-gigabyte plan is $12 per GB of data across all lines on the account each month. Comcast said that customers can switch from the pay-as-you-go plan to the unlimited plan on a month-to-month basis with no penalties.

Xfinity Mobile will also be able to reach Comcast for tech support via text message, Butz added.

The wireless service supports devices such as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE, as well as Samsung and LG smartphones, the company said.