Comcast enters US wireless business with unlimited data plans

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Comcast this morning unveiled its new Xfinity Mobile wireless service for smartphones - making a pitch to its customers to ditch their existing carriers and double-down with the cable giant, saving money by bundling a cellular plan with other Xfinity services. While the mobile plan will mainly be powered by its 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots, it will also leverage Verizon's (VZ - Free Report) wireless network.

Unlimited data, talk and text will be available by mid-year for $65 per line for up to five lines, or $45 per line for customers with Comcast's top X1 packages, which bundle TV, internet and phone services, the company said.

The carrier will offer the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S7 and Edge, Galaxy S8 and S8+, and the LG X Power at launch, according to launch event slides. Comcast stock has been consolidating more recently and has a buy point of 38.54. Comcast believes this plan is the cheaper alternative for most, as it claims that 70% of U.S. mobile customers consume less than 5GB a month.

For Comcast, it's not the first time at the wireless rodeo.

With the introduction of Xfinity Mobile today, Comcast Corp.

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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. After all, Comcast had effectively said before this service is meant to help retain and boost its cable subscriptions.

Since the plan was announced in September, Comcast executives have been staving off questions from analysts, who are curious about everything from pricing and contract terms to available handsets. In August 2016, every major cable TV company, including DirecTV, Comcast, and Character, lost subscribers. Those customers will not need to undergo a separate credit check for Xfinity Mobile service, and any billing and shipping information will be pre-populated in Comcast's online signup forms. This is what Comcast will be using to offer Xfinity Mobile. Comcast can throttle speeds after a customer uses 20 GBs in a month, not including an initial 100 megabytes of shared data bubdled with Xfinity Internet service. The difference is that, rather than investing in an entirely new network, Comcast can just pay Verizon for access as needed. "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".

Customers also will be able to select from a variety of devices, including the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus - along with the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition - iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. You can either choose to buy the devices upfront or choose a 24-month payment plan, but you cannot bring your own device to the service to start, at least not now; Comcast may add that option in the future.

For Comcast, this could be a way to test out the wireless business before it makes a major investment in it.

"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.

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