Cox launches mobile company, joining Comcast, Charter, and Altice

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

Rafael Henrique | SOPA Pictures | Light Rocket | Getty Images

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

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

Cox followed his peers eg ComcastAnd the Communication charter And the AlticeUSAwhich started offering mobile phone service to its customers in recent years and has been adding customers at a rapid clip.

Like Comcast and Charter’s services, Cox Mobile will only be available to new and existing customers. Cox has 7 million customers in 18 states and has been quietly rolling out mobile service in select markets in recent months.

Cable operators have begun offering mobile service with the goal of giving customers another reason not to leave their broadband plans. This is true now more than ever, as profitability for these business units looms large.

Cable companies are losing pay-TV customers who choose streaming-only services, Although it has accelerated lately. But, Broadband subscriber growth has stalled In recent quarters as competition has ramped up and moving customer activity has stagnated as the housing market has slowed.

“I think they’re now repurposing wireless as a way to boost their broadband business. There’s not a lot of profitability in it yet, but that’s not their concern. The concern is holding on to broadband customers,” said John Hudolic, an analyst at UBS. .

How competition is formed

Although wireless companies such as AT&TAnd the Verizon And the T-Mobile Accommodating the vast majority of wireless customers in the United States, Comcast and Charter’s mobile business has grown at a faster rate due to cheaper and more flexible plans.

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

The cheaper options stem from their ability to rely heavily on your home Wi-Fi broadband network and hotspots for data usage. When their mobile customers leave Wi-Fi and rely on a network offloaded to the cable companies’ partner operator — Verizon for both Comcast and Charter — it still gives the wireless company a piece of the pie.

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

A wrench 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 it. Earlier this year, a Delaware court judge It is said to be a judgment in favor of Cox.

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

“We started with this reimagined mobile service because we knew customers were going to spend a significant amount of time on Wi-Fi,” said Danny Bowman, Charter’s chief mobile officer, adding that Spectrum Mobile customers spend about 85% of their time on Wi-Fi. . fi.

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

‘We need to do this’

Smaller cable operators also see the value in offering customers a mobile plan.

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

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

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

Borelli said NCTC wasn’t in a rush to introduce mobile until it saw how Charter and Comcast fared in net additions in 2021. “I remember getting calls from some of our board members saying, ‘You know, maybe we should look at this,'” Borelli said. ‘” He said.

Borelli said the NCTC negotiations should conclude this year. Some have already added mobile. Colorado Fabulous! Internet, cable and telephone a statement mobile plan in july Through a partnership with Reach Mobile.

Borelli said consumer research in certain markets showed companies had no choice in the matter. “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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