Special for USA TODAY
Published 5:27 PM EDT Jun 30, 2019
The newest gadgets that Comcast sells cant tune into its TV service or plug into its wired broadband.
Instead, the LTE-enabled Apple Watches it began offering Friday, like the cellular-equipped iPads it started selling Wednesday, connect to Comcasts Xfinity Mobile. The low-cost wireless service that Comcast launched in April 2017 runs on Verizon Wirelesss network but requires a subscription to Comcasts residential Internet.
Comcast has company in offering cheap, resold wireless connectivity to its broadband subscribers. Spectrum introduced its own Verizon-based service, Spectrum Mobile, to its own Internet subscribers last September, and Altice plans to bring a Sprint-based offering to its Optimum subscribers sometime this summer.
Cable operators may have consistently poor customer-satisfaction scores, but these new wireless options can offer exceptional bargains.
At Xfinity Mobile, you can either pay $12 per gigabyte or $45 for “unlimited” – meaning your connection slows at 20 GB and mobile hotspot speeds stop at a near-useless 600 kilobits per second. Putting an Apple Watch or iPad on a plan adds $10 a month.
Spectrum Mobile, meanwhile, charges $14 per GB or $45 for “unlimited” (with a 5 GB data cap for mobile hotspot use and everything slowed after 20 GB), and those prices include taxes and regulatory fees. Tablets require a separate plan.
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Why is it cheaper?
Cable operators can beat the rates of the big four wireless carriers because they can offload some wireless subscribers traffic onto the WiFi networks theyve been building out for years. But these offerings also come with gotchas of their own.
For example, Xfinity doesnt let you bring an Android phone purchased elsewhere, limiting “bring your own device” affordability to iPhones.
Spectrum limits “BYOD” to recent iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones and supports WiFi calling only on “select” phones, including iPhones, Galaxy devices and Google Pixels.
Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of service provider strategies at Strategy Analytics, said the appeal of these cable deals diminishes as data consumption and the number of phones in a household increase.
“For many families with more substantial data use on smartphones while out and about and not on Wi-Fi, the shared plan discounts on other providers may be a better de