Charter launches Spectrum Mobile: $45 a line or $14 a GB

Charter Communications has officially rolled out its long-awaited mobile service, using a business model very similar to the one established by its wireless business partner, Comcast.

Spectrum Mobile will be available in two basic configurations: a $45-per-line plan that allows up to 20 gigabytes of data usage before throttling begins; and a pay-by-the-gig plan, with each gig priced at $14.

The only variance from Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile—Comcast charges $12 per gig. 

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Device availability is limited initially to Android handsets from Samsung and LG. However, Apple announced last month that it will be supplying iOS devices for Spectrum Mobile down the road. 

Like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile is designed to primarily leverage Charter’s Wi-Fi network, and will tap into Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless network when Wi-Fi isn’t available via an MVNO arrangement. 

Charter released a brief statement announcing the launch.

RELATED: Analyst: Cable MVNOs to steal 50% of all wireless customer additions by 2020

Charter executives have messaged the service to investment analysts and the press as a way to further augment its core wireline broadband business with yet another component to bundle. 

With Comcast reporting 577,000 Xfinity Mobile customers at the end of the first quarter, and Altice USA prepping its own Sprint MVNo based service for next year, analysts are bullish on the cable industry’s movement into the consumer wireless business. 

“Wireless executives had been dismissive of cable's foray into wireless, and the economics of the MVNO model in an unlimited world; however, following Comcast's early success (Comcast added more phone customers than Verizon and AT&T in 2017), we think the companies, and investors, are more sensitive to this risk,” wrote the Wall Street analysts at Morgan Stanley Research in a note to investors last week.

Specifically, the firm said it estimates that cable MVNOs will add around 2.2 million mobile phone customers in 2020, or almost 50% of the industry’s total net customer additions.