Broadband Providers And WiFi

from the the-awkward-dance dept

While Verizon has been successfully experimenting with offering free roaming WiFi to their broadband subscribers, most other broadband providers have pretty much ignored the whole WiFi thing. Some have dabbled in it, but a lot more action has occurred in the cellular wireless carriers. So, now comes the news that Comcast has done a deal with T-Mobile, to let Comcast broadband subscribers use T-Mobile hotspots. The idea sounds good (as did the Verizon plan), but the details show that the offering is lacking. What works about the Verizon plan is that the WiFi is offered for free to users – and they found it worked great because DSL subscribers understood the value of the free WiFi and it slowed down churn rates significantly. Comcast isn’t offering free WiFi, they’re offering “discounted” T-Mobile WiFi, and the discount is so weak, it’s almost laughable. Basically, there’s no real discount. You just get a free day if you buy another insanely expensive day pass. Or, if you sign up for a full year at the ridiculously high $30/month price, you get a free month. This will entice very few people, and will do little to help either Comcast or T-Mobile other than to get them a little publicity. There’s very little real benefit to doing this. At least if you’re a T-Mobile mobile phone subscriber, they offer you a monthly discount on your WiFi, so that it’s only $20/month. Comcast should decide what they’re trying to do by offering WiFi. They can try to make incremental revenue, or they can try to reduce churn. On either basis, this plan fails. The amount of incremental revenue will be so tiny as to be inconsequential. Sure, a few people will sign up for this deal, but there are so many hands in the T-Mobile pie already that Comcast won’t get much cash out of each one. It’s also not going to do that much to reduce churn since the number of users are going to be so low. If they really wanted to reduce churn, they’d have offered their users a real deal. Meanwhile, more people will continue to search out and use perfectly reasonable free hotspots.

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