Home United States USA — IT What the Comcast-Charter wireless link-up means to you

What the Comcast-Charter wireless link-up means to you


It’s a defensive play by the cable companies, says one analyst.
NEW YORK—Only last month, Comcast unveiled plans for Xfinity Mobile, a new wireless service that launches mid-year and that leverages the Verizon Wireless network. On Monday, Comcast announced a wireless partnership with another cable giant, Charter Communications, to “explore potential opportunities for operational cooperation” and “to accelerate and enhance each company’s ability to participate in the national wireless marketplace.”
Charter has a separate reseller agreement with Verizon and has had designs on launching its own wireless service in 2018. It isn’ t clear if this new partnership will speed up Charter’s launch, or for that matter will increase the likelihood that either or both might try to snatch up T-Mobile or Sprint, the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers.
In the short run, however, the consumer impact is likely to be modest.
Charter hasn’ t spelled out details for what its consumer wireless offering will look like. It purchased Time Warner Cable last year and operates the Spectrum broadband brand.
Under the upcoming Xfinity Mobile service, subscribers will pay $45 or $65 per month per line up to five lines, for “unlimited, ” with the lower monthly price reserved for customers on Comcast’s “best” X1 video packages, typically those that start around $150 per month. Unlimited talk and text is included and there’s no per line access fee.
“I think the overall impact for consumers will be low, ” says Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner. “Both companies will only sell to their own customers in their footprint. This remains a defensive play, but now with some better economics for the Comcast and Charter. Comcast’s offer continues to be great for people who love cable TV but don’t use wireless. We don’t know yet how aggressive or meek Charter’s consumer offer will be
In a joint release announcing the alliance, Charter chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said, “at Charter, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us in the wireless space. Within our footprint, our network is perfectly suited to provide the data-rich wireless services that customers are increasingly demanding. By working with the team at Comcast, we can not only speed Charter’s entry into the marketplace, it will also enable us to provide more competition and drive costs down for consumers at a similar national scale as current wireless operators.”
For his part, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said, “We’ re looking forward to launching Xfinity Mobile to our customers in the coming weeks and are excited about this opportunity to work with Charter to explore ways we can make our respective wireless initiatives more efficient and cost effective. “Both of our companies have regional wireless businesses using the same 4G LTE network, and by working together our goal is to create even better experiences for our customers.”
The agreements that Comcast and Charter have with Verizon Wireless are under what the industry refers to as an MVNO, shorthand for Mobile Virtual Network Operator.
Email: ebaig @usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

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