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Cox Launches Mobile Business, Joining Comcast, Charter, Altice

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In this photo illustration, the Cox Communications logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

Rafael Henrique | SOUP Pictures | light rocket | Getty Images

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

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

Cox is after colleagues like comcast, Letter of Communications and Altice USAwhich began offering mobile service to its customers in recent years and has been rapidly adding customers.

As with 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 started offering mobile services in certain markets in recent months.

Cable operators started offering mobile service with the aim of giving customers one more reason not to drop their broadband plans. This is true now more than ever, as profitability for these business units is in sight.

Cable companies have been losing pay-TV customers to streaming-only services, although this has accelerated recently. However, broadband subscriber growth has stalled in recent quarters as competition has increased and customer mobile activity has stalled with the housing market downturn.

“I think they’re now repurposing wireless as a way to bolster their broadband business. There’s not a lot of profitability in that yet, but that’s not their concern. They’re concerned about keeping their broadband customers,” said John Hodulik, analyst. from UBS.

How the competition shapes up

While wireless companies like ATT, verizon and mobile tee With the majority of wireless customers in the US, Comcast and Charter’s mobile businesses have been growing at a faster pace due to cheaper and more flexible plans.

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

The cheaper options stem from their ability to rely heavily on home broadband Wi-Fi and hotspots for data usage. When their mobile customers leave Wi-Fi and rely on a network, they’re handed over to the cable companies’ partner carrier — Verizon to Comcast and Charter — still giving the wireless company a slice of the pie.

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

A snag was thrown into Cox’s plans to launch its mobile business when T-Mobile sued the company in 2021, saying Cox was obligated to pursue a partnership with them. Earlier this year, a Delaware court judge ruled in Cox’s favor.

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

“We started with this reimagined mobile service because we knew customers would spend a significant amount of time on Wi-Fi,” said Danny Bowman, director of mobility at Charter, adding that Spectrum Mobile customers spend about 85% of their time on WiFi. Fi.

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

‘We need to do this’

Smaller cable operators are also seeing the value of offering customers a mobile plan.

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

“It’s become a focal point. It’s what everyone seems to think is what you need to have,” NCTC President Lou Borrelli said of the mobile offerings. “I’ve seen it referred to as the new package. I don’t dispute that.”

Because NCTC’s membership includes small providers — many in rural areas — the co-op began discussions with wireless operators last year on behalf of its entire base.

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

NCTC talks should end this year, Borrelli said. Some have already added mobile. Based in Colorado WOW! Internet, cable and phone launched a mobile plan in July through a partnership with Reach Mobile.

Borrelli said consumer surveys in certain markets have shown companies have no choice. “The members told us they don’t care about the results, we need to do this.”

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

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