Comcast wireless ambitions could get a lot pricier

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Comcast (CMCSA), the first cable-TV company to make a big move into wireless services, will do so by selling unlimited-data plans that are similar to AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ), as well as top-ranked smartphones such as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone, it was revealed Thursday.

Xfinity Mobile will combine wireless service on Verizon's network with Comcast's 16M Wi-Fi hotspots to offer service inside its existing footprint of 29M customers.

Comcast's offering is going to be pretty different from the typical wireless service. It's priced at $65 per month per line, but Comcast says that customers subscribed to its "best X1 packages" will be able to get the unlimited data plan for $45 per month per line.

Regardless of which plan customers go with, Xfinity Mobile allows Xfinity Internet users to activate up to five lines without paying line access fees. It'll have the last two years of iPhone models, it'll have Samsung's S7 and S8 models, and it'll offer LG's X Power, a midrange phone with a large battery in it. Instead, they will be required to purchase a phone through Comcast. Comcast believes this plan is the cheaper alternative for most, as it claims that 70% of United States mobile customers consume less than 5GB a month. Comcast says Xfinity Mobile users will automatically connect to hot-spots and toggle between Wi-Fi and mobile broadband.

So what is Comcast's motivation to become a wireless carrier? If you live in a rural area, there's a good chance that Verizon towers are your only option to get good service, so it's a boon that Comcast talked Verizon into a partnership for Xfinity Mobile.

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Xfinity Mobile won't be a total rival to those, though: It's an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator, that will piggyback off of Verizon's wireless towers. All-hours customer service is available via text or call.

The pricing plans are notable since Comcast can play ball with cutthroat pricing, but leverage other services. And the wireless offering will not be a standalone product, but instead will be sold as part of the company's broader bundle of services. Though Comcast is open about this relationship, the Verizon brand is not part of the direct pitch to consumers, with Comcast only saying it uses the "most reliable 4G LTE network".

You will not, however, be able to bring your own device to the service to start. Comcast executives noted that there's work to do and the experience will improve with Xfinity Mobile. "With Xfinity Mobile, customers only pay for the gigabytes they use, with the flexibility to easily switch back-and-forth between data options using the Xfinity Mobile app at no cost".

"Wireless should be a positive driver of value for Comcast, and the market isn't giving them credit for it today", said Jonathan Chaplin, an industry analyst at New Street Research, in a note to investors Thursday. As a Comcast customer, you'll have choices of unlimited or "By the Gig" plans. ○ 24x7 support available from a dedicated Xfinity Mobile call center support team, available to assist with any questions.

The Comcast service will be available on iPhone.

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