Comcast goes live with Clearwire service in Portland
Published: 30 June, 2009
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While disruptive US operator Clearwire has mainly gained attention for its own-branded mobile broadband launches so far, much of its future growth and business model will rely on MVNO deals, especially with its carrier investors, Sprint Nextel and three cablecos (Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse). Sprint is already offering a combined CDMA/WiMAX offering, called Sprint 4G, in territories where Clearwire has gone live, and now Comcast is following suit, reselling the WiMAX service initially in Portland, Oregon.
The cableco will brand its offering as Comcast High-Speed 2Go, and its positioning will focus heavily on the portable and mobile capabilities, to complement its existing fixed broadband options - and going beyond a simple 3G MVNO. The company will offer a metro plan and card that works within the WiMAX footprint area, and a nationwide plan and card that offers 3G everywhere, using the Sprint EV-DO network, and WiMAX where Clearwire has activated its service.
US carriers know all about the potential of bundled services and quad play, to increase their share of a consumer's total telecoms/media spend, boost their own ARPUs and lower costs, while luring customers with a single bill and lower total expenditure across fixed, mobile and TV options. Mobile services at true broadband speeds, and with the promise of new device formats and web services, add a new dimension to the conventional bundles, Comcast argues, enhancing its ability to compete with AT&T and Verizon within its cable territories - and to follow its customers when they travel to new areas.
Comcast is offering a 12-month introductory rate. For $50 a month, a subscriber gets 12Mbps home cable broadband and WiMAX, which is only a $7 premium over the cost of cable broadband alone (and includes a free Wi-Fi router). A national 3G add-on is an extra $20 a month and roaming to other Clearwire WiMAX markets is free. After the one-year trial the tariff goes up to $73 a month ($93 with 3G). There will be a $99 charge for a dongle (and other devices to follow in future), though people who commit to a two-year deal get the gadget for free.
Clearwire itself charges $20 a month for its in-home 'Clear' service, from $40 a month for mobile internet, and $50 a month for unlimited consumer roaming. It also has a creative range of pricing options, including sharing a connection between multiple devices, or taking up month-by-month contracts or short term passes (a day pass is $10, and customers can add an in-home voice option for $25). Sprint 4G is $80 a month with a two-year contract that includes 5Gb per month of 3G data and unlimited 4G bandwidth. All these plans enable consumers to get cutting edge mobile broadband capabilities - as use of dongles starts to take off, European-style, in the US - for a small premium.
Comcast will extend its new offerings to other key cities in its territory as Clearwire activates them, and that schedule is likely to be influenced heavily by the cableco's roadmap. Lined up for later in 2009 are cities including Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Clearwire's WiMAX networks are already live in Atlanta, Baltimore and Portland and many other cities are slated for this year, including Las Vegas, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu and Seattle.