By Dennis Jones
“Up to eighty percent of smartphone data traffic in the U.S. travels over Wi-Fi, not cellular networks, making Wi-Fi a key solution to today’s mobile data consumption.” You’d expect to find that kind of statistic in Cisco’s VNI or on the Wi-Fi Alliance website. But last week, you would have also found it displayed prominently in Comcast’s press release. Yes, that Comcast, the world’s largest broadcasting and cable TV company, second-largest pay-TV company, and the nation’s third-largest home telephone service provider. The release in question officially announced the launch of Comcast’s new MVNO service, Xfinity Mobile. To say that launch represents a huge step forward for the Wi-Fi-first movement would be an understatement.
Just to be clear, Xfinity Mobile isn’t necessarily Wi-Fi first. Subscribers have access to Verizon’s 4G network. But the service’s Wi-Fi bona fides are impressive nonetheless, as subscribers can also connect to Xfinity’s Wi-Fi network of 16 million domestic hotspots. And it’s this Wi-Fi component in particular that jives perfectly with Xfinity Mobile’s overall cost-saving value proposition; in the words of Comcast Mobile President, Greg Butz: “We’re doing mobile differently by bringing our customers the best networks and a product designed to save them money in an increasingly data-driven world.”
At present, Xfinity Mobile is only available for existing (and new) Comcast subscribers. At about 25 million customers, that potential pool is nothing to sneeze at. The service will allow subscribers to surf the web, stream music and watch video on their mobile devices without cutting into a cellular allowance. That’s crucial, as a huge appeal of Xfinity Mobile is access to Comcast content. Remember, Comcast is no slouch as a content provider; its biggest holdings include NBCUniversal Television Group. Of course, lurking in the background is the fact that the lines between cable and telecoms are blurring. Case in point: AT&T launched the DirecTVNow streaming service and is now attempting to merge with Time Warner. Not to be left out, Verizon is rumored to be working on its own pay TV service.
Other Xfinity Mobile service specifications include the following:
- No line access fees
- Unlimited talk and text
- First 100 MB of shared 4G LTE data included at no extra cost
- Available on both iOS and Android devices
- Two wireless plan options, one for unlimited data and another for pay-as-you-go with the flexibility to switch back and forth