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Altice USA's Mobile Service to Fetch $20-$30 Per Month – Report

Jeff Baumgartner
5/28/2019

Altice USA is reportedly about to enter the mobile services market with pricing that vastly undercuts that of its MVNO partner, Sprint, as well as AT&T and Verizon.

Altice USA is "likely" to launch its mobile service this summer for $20 to $30 per month following initial employee trials, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The cable op has not announced a precise launch date or how it will price and package its mobile service. Altice USA was not immediately available for comment Tuesday, but told the WSJ that pricing on the offering isn't set and "go-to-market plans are still in development."

Altice USA is basing its forthcoming mobile offering on a facilities-based MVNO agreement with Sprint, complemented by the cable operator's metro and in-home WiFi networks. Altice USA has already completed the core network, as well as the deployment of about 19,000 AirStrand small cells, for its new mobile service.

Altice USA has also signed on a major mobile handset partner that has yet to be named. The company has also signaled that its mobile service will focus on a bring-your-own-device model, reasoning that it will help Altice USA reduce the inventory risk and the fluctuations that come with a model that is heavily focused on device financing.

Earlier this month, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei acknowledged that the operator is testing wireless/mobile service in the emerging 3.5GHz CBRS band, which will support both licensed and unlicensed users, but stressed that Altice USA is not looking to acquire licensed spectrum.

Why this matters
With a price point in the $20 to $30 range, Altice USA would undercut other mobile service providers, including its MVNO partner, Sprint. Such pricing also suggests that Altice USA aims to ramp up its mobile subscriber base right out of the chute.

Altice USA is also gearing up to launch its service, to be called Altice Mobile, without yet giving its blessing to the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger. The cable operator recently told the FCC that it would approve of the deal if the combined company agreed to honor its existing MVNO agreements alongside favorable wholesale terms and conditions.

Though it's unclear if Altice USA's mobile pricing is for unlimited data or for specific data usage plans, it likewise appears that the cable operator will offer a service at pricing that also undercuts mobile services that Comcast (Xfinity Mobile) and Charter Communications (Spectrum Mobile) are offering through their respective MVNO deals with Verizon Wireless.

Both Comcast and Charter offer unlimited and by-the-Gig mobile plans and are using their mobile services to gain and retain home broadband subscribers. Comcast's and Charter's unlimited offering starts at $45 per line. For their by-the-Gig plans, Comcast charges $12 per GB, while Charter charges $14 per GB.

Charter ended Q1 2019 with 310,000 mobile lines, and Comcast ended the period with 1.4 million mobile lines.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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