Cable giant Comcast offers cellular plans on Verizon network

Beyond the company's existing hotspot network, its 29 million customers represent a target audience that is already tied into Comcast's product and business ecosystem.

Comcast will initially require customers to buy phones through the company. The entire industry is trying to figure out how to make money in new ways, as people's TV-viewing and data-consumption habits keep changing.

Roger Entner of Recon Analytics says Comcast's new wireless service might boost the company's bottom line, while having a relatively low impact on competition.

Comcast mobile customers will be able to get faster speeds by connecting to Comcast Wi-Fi hotspots, of which there are 16 million around the country.

The company first confirmed it would launch a wireless phone service to compete against the likes of Verizon and AT&T last September.

"The simplicity of the offer lends itself to a digital-first experience, which is going to be at a very efficient cost to serve, as well", said Mike Cavanaugh, Comcast's chief financial officer.

Schwartz says, "every inch of their network will be available to our subscribers as well". They can buy the phones outright or on a monthly interest-free installment plan, Comcast officials said. "Mobility is more important than ever to consumers, so we've designed Xfinity Mobile the way mobile should be - a simple solution for internet and entertainment in and out of the home".

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As for phones, Xfinity Mobile will offer the Apple (AAPL - Free Report) iPhone-including the 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, and SE-Samsung smartphones, like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, as well as LG's X Power phone.

Also, you can't bring your own device, at least not yet.

By way of comparison, Google's Project Fi, part of an MVNO partnership Google has with Sprint and T-Mobile, is limited to Google's own Pixel, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6 and Nexus 5X devices.

Comcast wireless pricing will start at $45 per line for unlimited service for customers who have signed up for the company's Best Xfinity package. The unlimited plan includes unlimited talk and text, and there is no per line access charge.

Comcast is also offering a pay-per-gig option of $12 per gigabyte for customers who don't use much data. Formerly the executive vice president for sales and marketing in the cable division, Butz joined Comcast in 1993 as director of business development for Comcast Cellular Communications, now a defunct unit. All you will pay for is data usage. However, subscribers will have the option to turn off this feature in places where they feed that the cellular network will be more reliable and faster. You can also switch from the $12/GB plan to the "unlimited" plan midway through a given month if you find yourself eating up too much data. But in Verizon's case you'd pay $80 for just one line or $70 per line for two. Families can mix-and-match on an account and easily switch between data options.

Payments are automatically billed through your credit card. However, unlimited speeds will be throttled after 20GB is used.

So what is Comcast's motivation to become a wireless carrier? Voice, smart home and Comcast Business were all new markets that were thriving.

  • Douglas Reid