Cox joins Comcast, Charter, Altice and starts mobile business

This photo illustration shows the Cox Communications logo on a smartphone screen.

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Cox Communications is ringing in the new year with the official launch of its mobile business.

The private cable and Internet operator plans to announce the national launch of Cox Mobile Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Like many of his peers, he was left behind Comcast, Charter communications and Altice USAhas started offering mobile service to its customers in recent years and has started adding customers at a rapid clip.

Like Comcast and Charter services, Cox Mobile will only be available to new and existing customers. Cox has 7 million customers in 18 states and has quietly begun offering mobile service in some markets in recent months.

Cable operators have begun offering mobile service in an effort to give customers another reason not to ditch their broadband plans. This is true now more than ever because the profitability for these business units is obvious.

Cable companies are losing pay-TV customers who opt for streaming-only services, although this has been accelerating recently. However, broadband subscriber growth stalled in recent quarters as competition intensified and customer traffic stagnated as the housing market slowed.

“I think now they’re using wireless again to power their broadband business. There’s not a lot of profitability in that yet, but that’s not a concern for them. The concern is with the broadband customers,” said UBS analyst John Hodulik. .

How competition is formed

Although the wireless companies like it AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile In the U.S., which holds the bulk of wireless customers, the mobile businesses of Comcast and Charter are growing faster thanks to cheaper and more flexible plans.

Charter’s Spectrum Mobile offers a $30 unlimited data plan or $14 per gigabyte of data used on a monthly plan. Similarly, Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile starts at $30 for unlimited data or $15 per gigabyte.

Cheaper options come from the ability to rely heavily on home broadband Wi-Fi and hotspots for data usage. When their mobile customers leave Wi-Fi and rely on the network, they are offloaded to the cable companies’ partner carrier — both Comcast and Verizon for Charter — again giving the wireless company a piece of the pie.

Cox Mobile will offer similar plans, $45 per month or $15 per gig for unlimited. Cox also uses Verizon as a network partner, which the company is expected to confirm at Thursday’s event.

T-Mobile sued the company in 2021, saying Cox was forced to partner with them, throwing a wrench into Cox’s plans to launch a mobile business. Earlier this year, a Delaware court judge reportedly ruled in Cox’s favor.

Charter said it had 4.7 million wireless customers as of Sept. 30, while Comcast had 5 million.

“We started with this redesigned mobile service because we knew customers would spend a lot of time on Wi-Fi,” said Danny Bowman, Charter’s chief mobile operator, adding that Spectrum Mobile customers will spend about 85% of their time on Wi-Fi. Fi.

“By keeping the mobile package simple, we’ve had exponential growth,” added Bowman. Charter and Comcast allow customers to bring their own devices, an option Cox does not yet offer. Currently, customers must purchase Samsung phones through Cox for service.

‘We have to do this’

Smaller cable operators are also seeing the value in offering customers a cellular plan.

The National Content and Technology Cooperative, or NCTC, an industry group of more than 700 cable and broadband providers, is in discussions to create a mobile offering for its members.

NCTC President Lou Borrelli said of the mobile offerings: “It’s become such a focus. It’s what everyone thinks is a must-have.” “I’ve seen it referred to as a new package. I don’t dispute that.”

Because NCTC’s membership includes smaller providers — many in rural areas — the cooperative began discussions with wireless carriers last year on behalf of its entire base.

Borrelli said NCTC is in no rush to offer mobile until it sees how Charter and Comcast do in net additions in 2021. “I remember getting calls from some of our board members saying, ‘You know, maybe we should look at this.’ ,'” he said.

Borrelli said that the NCTC negotiations should be completed this year. Some have already added a mobile phone. Based in Colorado AWESOME! WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone In July, it introduced its mobile plan through a partnership with Reach Mobile.

Borrelli said consumer research in certain markets shows companies have no choice in the matter. “Members have said they don’t care what the consequences are, we have to do this.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.

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