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Comcast Wireless Puts the Pressure on Carriers

[qi:___wimax] If recent comments from a Comcast executive are any indication, the push that cable companies are making into the wireless space could help spark a price war for mobile broadband. Comcast in July launched two new service bundles that provide wired and wireless broadband in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta at prices lower than comparable offers from carriers. Steve Burke, Comcast’s COO, noted on the cable company’s second-quarter earnings call yesterday that margins on combined wired and wireless broadband packages reach in excess of 40 percent once introductory prices are phased out, which means Comcast has plenty of room to respond if carriers try to lower their prices below those offered by the company. And that, in turn, means consumers may see lower mobile broadband rates in the coming years — at least in areas where WiMAX service is deployed.

Comcast is offering two combo plans: a metro service that combines home broadband and WiMAX mobile broadband for $49.99 for 12 months (after which the price jumps to $72.95), and a nationwide service that combines cable broadband with WiMAX and Sprint’s (s S) 3G network for $69.99 for the first year (it then jumps to $92.95). Clearwire, which Comcast has an investment in, is providing the WiMAX service. Considering that Sprint charges people $60 a month for mobile broadband and Comcast charges about $42 a month for its lowest tier, this second option is a great deal for the first year, and still offers savings over the long term. Think of the fast WiMAX speeds for local mobile broadband as a nice bonus.

AT&T (s T) has a similar style of plan it calls Internet At Home and On the Go that charges users $60 a month for the minimum broadband connection and 200 MB of 3G service and $80 for the 5GB of 3G access with DSL access. Compare Comcast’s 12 Mbps download speeds at home with AT&T’s 1.5 Mbps speeds on its low-end DSL line, and the comparison favors Comcast even after the introductory price rises. Of course, some folks may decide to dump Comcast’s wired broadband line altogether and go with Clearwire’s (s clwr) $80-per-month plan for nationwide mobile broadband.

But subscribers are apparently seeing the value in Comcast’s service as Burke said that 40 percent of those signing up for it in Portland are new Comcast customers leaving DSL connections. Looks like WiMAX may help challenge the lock on mobile broadband pricing after all — at least in markets where consumers can buy it.

10 Responses to “Comcast Wireless Puts the Pressure on Carriers”

  1. Wouldn’t be really interesting if every body should follow eco-friendly devices and keeps environment clean.Let’s make one thing clear before we go ahead for cellphone.It should not be more difficult and stressful, while compare wireless copmanies we should take into account the types of network either local network or nationwide availability network that we are going to be used.Customers doesn’t like low battery backup ,small screen and especially slow devices . We all guys should aware about social conscious and eco-friendly cell phone devices.Thanks……..

  2. Clearwire was advertising in the metro Atlanta area at $55 per month (for life) for unlimited home & mobile. But I also read negative commentary about how the service was lacking in Portland a year ago. I’ll stick with cable for now.

  3. “…Compare Comcast’s 12 Mbps download speeds at home with AT&T’s 1.5 Mbps speeds on its low-end DSL line, and the comparison favors Comcast even after the introductory price rises…”

    The thing is, Comcast likes to claim 12Mbps download speeds for home services, but the reality is, the company only has the digital infrastructure in place to offer this level of service in just a few metro areas nationwide. Even then, the 12Mbps service you cite simply is not available in every zip code in a serviced area. For instance, in the Sacramento metro area, 6Mbps of bandwidth is the local Comcast standard. But customers actually only receive 4-5Mbps bandwidth. And remember, every customer connected to a local node shares that throttled cable bandwidth — in theory as many as 256 customers. However, at one point a couple of years ago, a Comcast tech actually told us over 500 Internet customers were crowded onto our local node. During that period, our 6Mbps service actually was no better than 1.5Mbps service. This continued for a couple of years.

    The truth is, you have to pay extra fees for 12MBps service from Comcast, and it simply is not available everywhere in the region.

    Comcast has a very bad habit of carefully parsing their Internet service claims and overhyping their products. They do the same with HDTV. The norm in most communities nationwide is a couple hundred channels of severely over-compressed and fuzzy, standard definition TV and less than half the number of HD channels than those offered by competitors DirecTV and Dish Network.

    Never take Comcast service claims at face value.

  4. Sounds great, but it seems like we’re accumulating lots of disparate internet sources and no good way of combining/sharing them. Our phones have 3g with “unlimited” data plans, but telcos put restrictions on how we can use them. Products like the mifi work well, but only for those that shell out the extra cash for a basically redundant service. Not to mention that all of these solutions do nothing to optimize transfer between nearby devices. Virtual VPNs like Hamachi seek to solve this problem (as does DropBox with their addition of intranet detection/routing) but we’re not seeing enough of this intelligent transfer.

    I’m a big fan of T-Mobile’s UMA offering and wonder why more providers won’t fess up to the fact that data is data — who cares if it’s over 3g, wifi or WiMax?

  5. i believe most people will want to get rid of there cable/DSL all together when they get mobile broadband. this is an effort for comcast to try to keep them; but i do not see it working in large numbers unless it costs only slightly more than mobile by itself and the wired connection has a very significant speed advantage.

    • It will be a long time before I’m comfortable to go completely wireless. For instance the other day I was backing my photos up over my WiFi connection to discover that the files turned out to be corrupted. I have other problems with my AT&T 3G service were I have to make sure I’m pointing my phone in a certain direction to make sure it works, and even then I get timeouts and whatnot.

    • yeah absolutely. Why do you need a home broadband and mobile broadband. Technically mobile WiMAX (4G) is supposed to offer speeds much higher than the home broadband. These are just tactics to squeeze more money out of customers. Eventually I think if 4G is properly deployed it will be a wireless world ( ) unless the cable and wireless companies still carry out gimmicks to fool customers.