Welcome to wireless: Apple makes demands on Comcast and Charter

Apple logo building
The cable operators realized they could not compete in wireless without the iPhone. (Pixabay)

Comcast and Charter are trying to get some traction with their wireless MVNOs. But, now Apple is putting the screws to the cable operators, requiring them to sell iPads and other Apple devices if they want to offer the iPhone as part of their mobile networks, reports CNBC.

Both Charter and Comcast have mobile virtual network operator agreements with Verizon. Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile ended 2018 with 1.2 million subscriber lines, adding 227,000 in the fourth quarter and 854,000 for the full year. And, Charter recently reported that its Spectrum Mobile counts 310,000 customer lines.

The cable operators realized they could not compete with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile without offering the popular iPhone, according to CNBC sources. This has given Apple quite a bit of leverage. The iPhone maker is requiring Comcast to sell an unknown amount of iPads, with Comcast subsidizing about $36 of the cost of each iPad.


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Apple has struck a different deal with Charter, allowing for the fact that the two companies have an Apple TV set-top box deal. As a result, Charter doesn’t have the same subsidized sales requirement for iPads that Comcast does, according to CNBC.

Given the popularity of Apple devices, the company also has relationships with established wireless operators, including AT&T and Verizon.

RELATED: Altice’s wireless offering will be cheap but profitable, expert says

Meanwhile, Altice USA is preparing to launch a wireless service offering in the United States this summer, making it the third cable operator in the U.S. to become an MVNO that rides on an existing wireless service provider’s network. In Altice’s case the underlying network is Sprint.

But unlike its cable counterparts, Comcast and Charter, which are MVNOs powered by Verizon’s network, Altice is an infrastructure-based MVNO. That means it will only use Sprint’s radio access network (RAN). Altice will provide the SIM, voice messaging, customer care, and billing, and it will even negotiate roaming partnerships.

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