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Comcast’s wireless service is such a good deal it’s losing the company money

Updated 5 years ago
Published Apr 29th, 2018 3:18PM EDT
Xfinity Mobile unlimited plans
Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Comcast recently started offering its own wireless service under the brand of Xfinity Mobile. The actual mobile service is provided by Verizon, and the plans are surprisingly cheap and flexible. We’ve said before that Xfinity Wireless is a good deal for Comcast subscribers, and as it turns out, it’s such a good deal that Comcast is losing money.

In its latest earnings report, Comcast posted a $189 million loss for Xfinity Mobile, despite adding 196,000 new subscribers in the quarter. Analysts expected the loss — they actually expect Comcast to burn through $1.2 billion in the first 18 months — but this loss exceeded expectations.

Much of the cost is likely to be initial start-up costs that are inevitable with setting up a network. However, Comcast doesn’t have to invest in any wireless infrastructure, and it already has a retail store network it can use to sell the plans.

“I think we’re off to a really good start with mobile,” Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, said on a conference call, according to DSL Reports. “But it just launched last May, and it’s still early in terms of how we expand distribution. We’re just now beginning to package mobile solutions with broadband.”

Xfinity Mobile offers two plans: the $45-per-month Unlimited, which gets you unlimited talk, text, and data, up to a soft cap of 20GB per month; and the per-GB option, which charges $12 per GB per month. In order to subscribe, you need to be a Comcast internet customer as well.

Comcast is letting you mix and match different types of line on one account, which is unusual for a wireless carrier, and can help make a family plan a lot cheaper. Normally, pricing for Unlimited plans works that the cost per line decreases the more lines you have on the account, but you can’t mix and match different types of lines. It’s designed so that you’ll end up paying for unlimited data for you entire family — even your grandparents who still have an AOL email — since it’s cheaper than doing it line by line.

With Xfinity Mobile, you can pay $45 for any heavy data users in your family, and $25 a month for those who just need a few gigs of data. In theory, it could be a lot cheaper than doing it through T-Mobile or Verzion — and you’re getting Verizon’s excellent network to boot.