Big Cable: Same Networks, Different Data Plans

While Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is offering subscribers an unlimited mobile data usage plan, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) -- which uses the same networks from Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) -- doesn’t offer its customers the same option.

Following news that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will stop offering mobile subscribers unlimited data usage plans, it’s worth taking a closer look at the strategies its top cable rivals are pursuing when it comes to marketing mobile data services. (See AT&T Intros Mobile Data Caps.)

Both Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable rely on reselling access to 4G and 3G networks from Clearwire and Sprint in order to market their mobile data services. But the nation’s two largest cable operators are pursuing unique pricing and packaging strategies. (See TWC Revs Up 'Road Runner Mobile' in North Carolina and Comcast's 4G Market Primer.)

Depending upon which cable and phone products are bundled with its mobile offerings, Comcast charges its High-Speed 2 Go subscribers prices ranging from $54.95 to $64.99 monthly for access to 4G networks in Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Portland, Ore. Those packages allow subscribers to download up to 4 gigabytes of data monthly. Customers are charged an additional 5 cents for each additional megabyte.

When asked whether Comcast would consider offering subscribers unlimited data plans in the future, spokesman Charlie Douglas noted that the company is getting feedback from customers on how its packages should be priced. "We’re gauging customer interest in that, and it’s still very new for us," he said. "We’ve only been at this for a few months now."

Using the same 4G and 3G networks as Comcast, Time Warner Cable offers its customers unlimited data usage in its Road Runner Mobile packages. It charges monthly rates ranging from $49.95 to $64.99 depending upon the region of the country and whether the customer subscribes to its digital cable or phone services, spokesman Justin Venich told us.

While both Comcast and Time Warner have experimented with placing meters on the amount of bandwidth subscribers to its cable modem services use each month, neither MSO has capped the amount of bandwidth a customer can consume. (See Comcast Expanding Broadband Meter Trials and TWC Tees Up Metered Internet Trial .)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

sburpeeduncan 12/5/2012 | 4:33:33 PM
re: Big Cable: Same Networks, Different Data Plans

But their data plans are consistent when it comes to their Wi-Fi.   As mentioned in LR Cable coverage,"Big MSOs sign WiFi pact", they "announced an agreement to allow their high-speed Internet customers to roam freely across the companies’ respective WiFi networks at no additional charge"

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