Altice USA launched its long-awaited wireless service Thursday, a full-featured offering with unlimited text and data over a 4G LTE nationwide network that is aggressively priced.
Altice first announced its intention for the service in 2017, as part of a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) deal with Sprint. With the launch of Altice Mobile, existing Optimum and Suddenlink customers in the company’s 21-state footprint can get Altice Mobile for $20 per month with a “price for life” commitment. Non Optimum and Suddenlink customers in or near its footprint -- including New York City -- can get the service for $30 per month.
According to Altice, the average mobile bill in its service territory is about $70 per month, meaning Altice Mobile customers can save as much as $600 per year for one line and up to $1,100 per year for households and families with five lines.
“The advent of Altice Mobile as the newest mobile operator exemplifies our vision to create one converged fiber and wireless network that delivers an ultra-fast broadband and mobile experience to support consumers’ needs inside and outside the home,” Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said in a press release. “By building a mobile network that will ultimately support 5G combined with our state-of-the-art fiber broadband capable of more than 10 Gigabit speeds, Altice USA is creating a formidable and powerful network to deliver superior connectivity and simplified customer experiences.”
“Altice Mobile harnesses the power of our advanced networks to address the needs of today’s consumers, who demand seamless and ubiquitous connectivity, a frictionless experience, and the latest technologies and devices, all at an unbeatable value,” said Hakim Boubazine, Altice USA co-president and chief operating officer in a press release. “With one unlimited mobile plan and loyalty pricing, Altice Mobile gives customers the flexibility and freedom they want, providing a truly innovative, simple and holistic connectivity experience over a blazingly fast nationwide network. We’re also very proud to expand Altice Mobile outside our customer base and give even more people a taste of Altice’s great innovations and services.”
With the offering, Altice joins other cable operators Comcast (XFinity Mobile) and Charter (Spectrum Mobile) in the wireless communications business. And while those offerings were aggressively priced (XFinity costs Comcast customers $45 per month with Charter customers paying the same for Spectrum Mobile service), Altice Mobile enters the market at a price point that is less than half of those offerings. Still, Goei insists that the pricing is not an attempt to grab market share.
On a conference call with reporters to announce the launch, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said while the pricing may appear to be aggressive, the cable operator is not planning to operate the mobile business at a loss. While other cable companies have weathered losses from their wireless offerings, which for the most part have been a retention tool for broadband and cable customers.
“We are not pricing this at a negative gross profit per customer,” Goei said on the call. “We intend to make this very profitable going forward. Obviously the margin profile is different than our core telecom business, but today pricing in the market we feel is probably not as attractive as it can be. We feel that we can offer our clients a different experience and a different price point while at the same time providing them with a lot of savings and great service. We are not pricing this to lose money nor to gain market share. We’re pricing this as a standalone product that we think we can make very attractive economics on.”
Goei added that the Altice USA expects Altice Mobile to be profitable in about 12 months.
Altice Mobile utilizes the cable company’s own fiber network and the mobile core structure of Sprint (which is in the throes of a merger with T-Mobile USA). The network also will be complemented by Altice USA's recently signed national roaming contract with AT&T, which should fill in some holes where Sprint doesn’t currently offer service. The mobile service will evolve to offer 5G services when they become available.
Here’s a rundown of the key features of the product:
• One Unlimited Data, Talk & Text Plan
Includes data, talk and text as well as unlimited mobile hotspot, unlimited video streaming, and unlimited international usage when traveling in or contacting people in more than 35 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Israel, most of Europe, and more.
Altice Mobile is $20 per line per month for up to five lines for Optimum and Suddenlink customers; $30 per line per month for consumers in or near the company’s footprint who are not Optimum or Suddenlink customers.
• Easy Sign-Up
Altice Mobile features online sign up, activation and digital customer care. Customers can message Altice Mobile experts online with questions and get all their account information on alticemobile.com.
• Bring Your Own
Consumers can bring their own phone to Altice Mobile. Additionally, eligible Optimum and Suddenlink customers can purchase the latest smartphones, including phones from Apple, Samsung and Motorola, at Optimum and Suddenlink retail stores where they can choose between paying in full or via zero-down, zero-interest, 36-month financing.
• Nationwide Coverage
Altice’s nationwide 4G LTE network, complemented by the company’s fiber network, two million WiFi hotspots and T-Mobile-Sprint’s mobile core infrastructure provides seamless, reliable 99% nationwide coverage.
• No Overages or Contracts
Altice Mobile has no data limits and no annual contracts.