Spectrum Launches Mobile Service for Home Internet Customers

As we've been expecting, cable giant Spectrum Communications has at last launched a new mobile offering called Spectrum Mobile.

The service is very similar to Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service, with both options running on Verizon's network behind the scenes.

Spectrum Mobile service is only available to Spectrum home internet customers, but for those that qualify it is potentially an affordable way to add access to Verizon's network to your connectivity arsenal.


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Spectrum Mobile Background

Spectrum (formerly known as Charter Communications) is the nation's second largest cable company, behind Comcast's Xfinity.

Back in 2011 Charter and Comcast were part of a cable industry consortium that sold billions of dollars of cellular spectrum to Verizon, but as part of the deal the cable companies retained rights to eventually launch their own cellular services using Verizon's network behind the scenes.

This deal is what enables the big cable companies  to buy service from Verizon at wholesale prices, allowing Spectrum Mobile to launch with competitive prices on Verizon's network - including providing access to Verizon's roaming partners.

Without this deal - launching with nationwide coverage would have been impossible.


Details, Pricing, and Limitations

Spectrum Mobile offers two plans with different data packages.  Both plans come with unlimited talk and text, and with unlimited access to Spectrum's network of nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots.

Like Xfinity Mobile, you can have up to five total lines (based on the customer's credit rating), but new Spectrum home internet customers will be limited to 2 lines for the first 30 days.

  • Unlimited: $45/month
    • Mobile Hotspot: 5GB of high-speed data per month, throttled to 600kbps for the rest of the month.  Hotspot data counts against network management limit.
    • Network Management Limit: 20GB - all data used after this amount, to include hotspot data, is subject to deprioritization during times of network congestion.
    • International Use: Available at usage rates which vary by country. For Canada and Mexico, the rates are 10 cents per text or minute of talk and 5 cents per MB of data.
    • Video Streaming: All video streams are throttled to provide 480p resolution.
  • "By the Gig": $14/month per GB of data.  Data is shared by all "By the Gig" lines on the account.  Data refills in 1GB increments for $14.
    • Mobile Hotspot: Included
    • Network Management Limit: None - data is not deprioritized.
    • International Use: Available at usage rates which vary by country. For Canada and Mexico, the rates are 10 cents per text or minute of talk and 5 cents per MB of data.
    • Video Streaming: All video streams are throttled to provide 480p resolution.

Currently, customers must purchase a new phone through Spectrum Mobile to sign up - and only a small number of Android options are available (including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, and LG K30).

However, Spectrum Mobile plans to allow customers to use their own Verizon-compatible phones at some point in the future, without needing to purchase a new device.

Get the Book
For Spectrum Internet Customers Only

The most important limitation is that Spectrum Mobile is only available to Spectrum home internet customers.

However, if you cancel Spectrum home internet service in the future, you can keep the Spectrum Mobile lines, with some limitations:

  • Each line will be charged an additional $20/month access fee.
  • Speeds when using Spectrum W-iFi hotspots will be limited to 5Mbps.
  • You can change your plan, but you won't be able to add additional lines.

Analysis

For those who maintain a home base in a Spectrum area, and who subscribe to their home internet service and travel occasionally, then this can be a worthwhile plan.  However, until they roll out BYOD, you'll have to purchase a phone from them.

For those transitioning to full-time travel, the extra $20 per line access fee for not having home internet service makes these plans unattractive compared to other available options.

5GB of high-speed mobile hotspot use for $45/month is not great, especially since the 5GB counts toward the 20GB network management threshold.

If you have both Spectrum and Xfinity available at your home, you may want to consider the mobile aspect when deciding on a home internet service. Spectrum Mobile is very similar to Xfinity's service but there are some differences:

Potential customers will need to look at the whole package when evaluating these offers as well as compare with other available data plan options, but in the right circumstance, Spectrum Mobile could be a solid choice for a part-time nomad with a home base served by Spectrum cable.

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