Altice USA Inc. is now looking to step on some toes in the wireless industry through a new service called Altice Mobile that will reportedly significantly undercut competitors by approximately $15 to $25 per month, according to persons said to be close to the matter.
The New York-headquartered cable company's direct focus is on fellow cable-providers-turned-wireless-carriers Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., who offer wireless services for around $45 per month. The services will be based on Sprint's network rather than relying on a Verizon backbone. In fact, they'll be almost identical to those on offer from those competitors, relying on subscribers' Wi-Fi and Altice hot-spots as well as the carrier's network.
The network will be tested by Altice employees "in the coming weeks," the sources claim.
This is probably a low-impact venture
Depending on the finalized cost of Altice Mobile, that could potentially save consumers between $180 and $300 per year, with at least one caveat. Namely, that’s due to the scale of the markets the company currently has a foothold in.
Altice USA Inc. is the nation's fourth-largest service provider in its industry, offering both cable programming and internet access. Its current services only encompass approximately 3.3 million TV subscribers and 4.1 million internet subscribers. Those are chiefly located in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area as well as a few other smaller markets.
By contrast, Comcast and Charter Communications are substantially larger, national brands that service a far wider swath of the US.
The primary motivator for Altice, according to the sources, is to hold onto customers against the onslaught of cord-cutting services. Both Comcast and Charter Communications have steadily shifted in that direction through diversification in the streaming media industry and wireless offerings. By entering into the wireless industry with plans at a fraction of the cost, Altice hopes to give its consumers a reason to stay with its current services.
Altice has all reportedly but confirmed its plans but no details are readily available regarding exactly which markets will see Altice Mobile arrive first or about what the service will entail. Pricing hasn't been confirmed either.
Both of its would-be competitors provide unlimited data at their respective price points. It isn't clear whether Altice Mobile will follow that model -- which seems likely -- or stick to per-gigabyte plans, setting aside prospects of the cost of those plans if they are offered.
No information is available regarding possible bundles the company plans to offer but a decision to go with Sprint would limit what devices will be available to those that work on that companies network.
...and this isn't a real increase for competition either
An increase in the number of competitors mobile subscribers can pick from would be at least as good for the industry as the number of cord-cutting services that are now available is for the entertainment industry. More companies in any market will generally equate to a reasonable expectation of more competitive pricing and better value.
Altice's new plans seem to align well for those looking to save money in either market in the long-run. That's especially true if future plans lead to competitive content distribution services and streaming from Altice to match the new mobile service.
With regard to increased competition in the mobile space, that may not be the case at all though. Altice is reported to have secured a deal with Sprint that will see cooperation between the companies continue even if the Sprint merger with T-Mobile goes through.
So the company will effectively be another MVNO feeding back into the big three US carriers if that merger does gain approval.