YOU ARE AT:Analyst AngleKagan: Xfinity Mobile is growing but not a threat to wireless

Kagan: Xfinity Mobile is growing but not a threat to wireless

A few years ago, the cable television competitors like Comcast Xfinity Mobile, Charter Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile said they would re-enter the wireless space. The question was, would they be successful and disrupt the wireless industry or just be another player? After two years in the marketplace the answer seems to be clear.

While cable TV providers are becoming a player in wireless, they are not disruptive to the wireless industry. That means they can use it to achieve their own goal without impacting Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Sprint.

Comcast Xfinity Mobile was the first of the big three cable television companies to enter wireless. They have achieved growth on an ongoing basis since they entered. While I believe they are happy with their growth, it is not enough to be a threat to the traditional wireless industry

Cable TV company’s goal in wireless is different

Comcast thinks this is OK since their goal is not to win against the wireless competitors. Instead, their goal is to create a sticky-bundle of services so they can keep their customer base from shrinking.

The same thing with Charter Spectrum Mobile. They entered less than a year ago and are generally taking the same path as Xfinity Mobile. They are growing, but not a real threat to wireless. Altice Mobile has not entered wireless yet.

While the majority of their customers are not using their wireless service, those who are have become stickier-customers.

Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile are MVNO players and resell Verizon Wireless. Altice Mobile will resell Sprint when they launch later this year.

Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile taking different path in wireless

Traditionally, wireless carriers compete with each other for market share. Each wants to win as much market share as they can, as quickly as they can.

The leaders today are Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. T-Mobile is a distant third and Sprint is in fourth place. Plus, there are countless smaller MVNO resellers like what the cable TV industry is doing in wireless.

Wireless is not profitable yet for the cable TV companies

Wireless is not profitable for the cable television competitors. In fact, it costs them plenty just to be a player. So, the question now is this. With this high cost, will cable TV stay in wireless or will they pull out? Is there a benefit they gain from wireless other than profitability?

This may sound strange, but I think the cable television competitors will continue to sell wireless, even though it’s costing them money, for one reason. The sticky-bundle it creates. It helps them stabilize their customer base.

So, even though it’s a cost, it’s less expensive than losing customers. That’s why I think they will continue to stay in the wireless space.

Cable TV using wireless to create sticky-bundle

Wireless is not the only way cable TV companies are trying to create a sticky bundle, but it is one important slice of the pie. Not every cable TV customer buys wireless that way. In fact, only a small percentage of customers seem interested in this bundle.

Those who do, become sticky customers. And that is the whole point. It helps Comcast, Charter and Altice stabilize their customer base.

Every company wants to accomplish two goals. They want to stop their customer base from shrinking and they want to grow it at the same time. Of course. they also want to be profitable as well. But even if it costs them money, if it keeps them from losing customers, it is often worth the cost.

What will cable TV do next to slow customer loss?

Since wireless from the cable TV company is not for everyone, these companies must find other ways to create a sticky bundle for other customers. So, I think we should be keeping our eyes open to see what they do next.

Today, Comcast is the strongest and largest cable television company. They offer good programming, fast Internet and wireless service. Their service is more reliable, although they still have their problems along with Charter and Altice.

However, their customer service is getting better over time. While cable television pricing is too high and growing year after year, since they are doing well on Wall Street, I don’t expect that to change.

Bottom line, even though the cost is very high to the cable TV companies, I see wireless as a success for them. It is helping them hang onto a slice of their customer base.

Any way you slice it, this is good news. While wireless is doing what the cable television industry wants, it is not having an impact on the mobile industry. So it helps every wireless player in the space.


Jeff Kagan
Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

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