WiFi connectivity has been key ingredient for cable MVNOs during COVID-19

Cable companies’ mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) continued luring customers from their larger mobile network operator rivals during Q1 2020, as COVID-19’s impact highlighted the logic behind their WiFi-centric business models. However, the ongoing pandemic threatens to slow their trajectory, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

A recent report by GlobalData analyses three cable company MVNOs – Altice Mobile (Altice USA), Spectrum Mobile (Charter Communications), and Xfinity Mobile (Comcast) – which notes that they ended a complicated first quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19, with 3.75 million subscriptions among them.

Tammy Parker, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The WiFi-centric path chosen by these competitors benefitted them during stay-at-home orders, as considerable wireless traffic that would usually have traveled over cellular networks was restricted to residential WiFi, thus saving these MVNOs cellular usage fees that they would have had to pay their network partners. Looking ahead, 5G and new spectrum availability have starring roles to play in these players’ future prospects.”

Nonetheless, the pandemic is expected to dramatically hinder subscriber net adds in the second quarter for all US mobile operators and MVNOs as a continued lockdown keeps many retail shops closed and the economy remains unstable.

Altice Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Xfinity Mobile have all been working to offer more device options to customers while honing their marketing and distribution efforts. More price adjustments and promotions from the cable MVNOs are possible over the coming year. Q1 and early Q2 plan changes initiated by Altice Mobile and Xfinity Mobile show that these players are not shy about making pricing adjustments as they see fit.

Parker concludes: “The cable MVNOs are posing competitive challenges to nationwide and regional operators on the net additions front. Amid economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing these WiFi-centric MVNOs have going for them is their particularly attractive service price points, which will especially appeal to consumers who have suddenly found themselves unemployed or otherwise budget-constrained.”

More Media