It may be early days for Comcast’s foray in offering commercial wireless services, but it’s steadily adding lines, reporting net line additions of 228,000 in the third quarter, ending with 1 million total lines.
Comcast’s latest quarterly results include a loss of $178 million from the service, which compares to a loss of $161 million in the prior-year period.
After launching the category in the spring of 2017, “I think we’re off to a really good start. We’re ending Q3 with over a million customer lines and I think solid momentum. It’s early, very early but we’re encouraged,” said Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson during the company’s third-quarter conference call.
One of the top reasons Comcast launched a mobile service was to improve broadband customer retention, and an early check on that is showing “that there’s real hope there,” he said.
Watson also said that Comcast is confident it can achieve positive standalone wireless economics at scale, and that it can attract even more broadband customers and find more opportunities to expand customer relationships through mobile. “Overall the trending is what we expected,” he said. “It’s still early” but encouraging.
BTIG analysts had predicted that Comcast would report 250,000 wireless net additions for the third quarter, so the final tally fell short of their expectations. And while churn is up at AT&T and Verizon, the level of growth that Comcast is showing likely doesn’t concern the wireless industry, noted BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk.
Xfinity Mobile uses Comcast’s MVNO agreement with Verizon to offer LTE service, as well as Comcast’s Wi-Fi hotspots. It came out of the gate offering a $45-per-month unlimited option to its customers—one of the better deals in the wireless industry.
It's worth noting that the Xfinity Mobile business carries a number of caveats that make it difficult to compare to the nationwide wireless network providers. For one thing, the company only reports the number of lines added, which doesn’t provide insight into how many actual households are subscribing to Xfinity Mobile service. For another, Comcast only sells Xfinity Mobile to its existing wired internet and TV customers, which means that the company is pulling from a much smaller addressable base.
In the second quarter, Comcast reported a gain of 204,000 Xfinity Mobile lines. Analysts at Wall Street research firm Oppenheimer predicted that Comcast will increase its Xfinity Mobile customer base to around 1.3 million by the end of this year, growing that to 2.3 million by the end of next year and 3.3 million by 2020.
Separately, Comcast lost 95,000 residential video subscribers during the third quarter but still grew revenues for its cable segment.
Ben Munson contributed to this report.