In April, cable company and internet service provider Comcast announced its new wireless business, Xfinity Mobile, which offers unlimited data plans to Comcast customers that can be as cheap as $45 per month, for those who also subscribe to Comcast’s high-end X1 packages. Today, that service is launching and is open for sign-ups, the company says.
Comcast tells TechCrunch the website for Xfinity Mobile has gone live and Xfinity Internet customers in its markets can now sign up for service, as the service begins its nationwide rollout.
The service itself runs on top of Verizon’s network (disclosure: Verizon owns TechCrunch parent AOL), but also includes access to Comcast’s existing 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots. The idea is that Xfinity Mobile users will be automatically switched over to the hotspots when in range, saving them on their data usage and enjoying better connection speeds.
Xfinity Mobile also enables access to Comcast’s TV streaming service, through the Xfinity Stream app, for TV customers. This offers up to 200 live TV channels on demand, plus 40,000 on-demand shows and movies.
Meanwhile, the Xfinity Mobile app offers customers the ability to track their data use and manage payment options, and they can text customer support for help at any time.
The new mobile service is priced at $65 per line, which is reduced to $45 when customers are already paying for a high-end X1 package. However, anyone can get the $45 pricing at sign-up as a limited-time launch promotion.
Additionally, subscribers can choose to pay $12 per GB of data to share across their lines – solution that’s a couple of dollars more than Google’s Project Fi service, but a decent option for those who don’t use much data.
However, there are some caveats with Xfinity Mobile. For starters, it’s only available to Comcast’s 25 million internet customers, or to who those new customers who sign up for Comcast broadband in its supported markets. You also can’t bring your own device to the network. Instead, you have to pick from Comcast’s selection of newer iPhones and Android devices from Samsung and LG. Plus, not all customers will like the convenience of the auto-billing feature, either – and it’s not optional.
The move to expand into wireless comes at a time when many consumers are abandoning pay TV, but then signing up for streaming services provided by the same company – as with AT&T’s DirecTV Now or Dish’s Sling TV. With Xfinity Mobile, Comcast has a way to offer its own streaming TV service across platforms, while keeping customers on a network it manages.