As expected, Spectrum Wireless launched today. Spectrum is a Verizon MVNO from cable broadband and TV provider, Charter Communications. In launching an MVNO, Charter is following in the footsteps of its cable rival Comcast which unveiled its Xfinity Mobile a year ago. Spectrum Wireless and Xfinity Mobile are similar in many respects but there are also some significant differences.
Similarities between Spectrum and Xfinity include that both run on the Verizon network and have two plans, an “Unlimited” one with unlimited talk, messaging and data and a “By the Gig” plan where voice and messaging are unlimited and data is charged based on usage. Both cable MVNOs let users connect to their networks of WiFi hotspots at no charge and are only available to customers of their respective cable broadband services. Both Spectrum and Xfinity throttle video streams to force 480p or lower resolution and add taxes and fees on top of plan prices.
Here are details of Spectrum’s plans and how they are different than Xfinity’s.
By the Gig: Includes unlimited voice and messaging and 1 GB of data for $ 14/month. Each additional whole or partial GB of data costs another $ 14. Hotspot is allowed with no speed restrictions. Up to four lines can be added at no cost, with all lines data use combined. Xfinity charges less, $ 12 per GB and doesn’t charge for the first 100 MB of data used. That means that light data users get free (except for taxes and fees) talk and text on Xfinity but pay $ 14 on Spectrum.
Unlimited: $ 45/month for unlimited voice, messaging and data with the first 20 GB at high speeds and the rest throttled to an unspecified slower speed, probably 128 kbps. Hotspot is supported but is throttled to 600 kbps after 5 GB. All hotspot usage counts toward your high speed data cap. Spectrum’s Unlimited Plan seems to be identical to Xfinity’s in price, features and limitations.
Both Spectrum and Xfinity’s MVNOs charge an extra monthly fee if a user cancels their cable broadband service. With Xfinity the fee is $ 10/month but with Spectrum it’s $ 20/month.
Spectrum doesn’t allow customers to use their own phones with its service. Xfinity allows customers to bring their own phones as long as they are iPhones. Spectrum Mobile customers must purchase a new phone from Spectrum. At launch their are only five phones available and none of them are iPhones. The available phones are:
- LG K30 $ 179.99 or $ 7.50/month for 24 months.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 $ 599.99 or $ 25/month for 24 months.
- Samsung Galaxy S8+ $ 699.99 or $ 29.17/month for 24 months.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 $ 749.99 or $ 31.25/month for 24 months.
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ $ 849.99 or $ 35.42/month for 24 months.
With pricey phones, no BYOP, no iPhones and higher prices, Spectrum Mobile doesn’t seem very competitive compared with Xfinity Mobile. Of course the two MVNOs don’t really compete with each other. Spectrum Mobile is only available to Charter cable customers and Xfinity Mobile is only available to Comcast cable users and the two cable brands are rarely, if ever, available at the same address. The real purpose of both cable MVNOs seems to be to help retain cable subscribers by offering a bundle of cable and wireless that’s cheaper overall than combining a lower cost broadband provider with a Verizon or other postpaid wireless plan.
Source: Spectrum Mobile