Comcast’s wireless service Xfinity Mobile added 181,000 service lines in the second quarter, bringing its total to 1.5 million lines after a little more than two years on the market.
Notably, Comcast reported an $88 million EBITDA loss for the service in the second quarter, a big improvement over the $185 million loss reported in Q2 2018.
“We’re really pleased with the wireless, Xfinity Mobile, the first several years we've been in business,” said Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, speaking to investment analysts this morning.
“We're offering a great suite of products with value to our best broadband customers. It's got a strategic focus for how we're operating the company. And now it's beginning to have real volume and scale and getting us closer to that point where, economically, it's not a drag and it's a contributor,” Roberts added.
Comcast leverages a mobile network virtual user agreement with Verizon to support Xfinity Mobile. From launch, the cable operator has said that it will drive Xfinity Mobile users to its public Wi-Fi network in order to limit the unprofitable wholesale usage of Verizon’s wireless network.
Analyts, most notably MoffettNathanson’s Craig Moffett, have cast doubts on that strategy, which is also deployed by Charter Communications for Spectrum Mobile.
"It should be clear by this point that the current [MVNO] deal is a money loser for the cable operators; it's not profitable and it likely never will be," Moffett wrote in April.
The analysts based his claim on what he believes is the failed premise that Wi-Fi is a significant option for offloading.
However, according to new research published by Tutela, 69.2% of Xfinity Mobile usage is through private Wi-Fi, even if only 6.6% is based on public Wi-Fi. Only 24.2% of Xfinity Mobile usage leverages the Verizon network. For the younger Spectrum Mobile, only 26.8% of usage comes from the Verizon MVNO.
There has been very recent speculation that, given the perceived poor economics of their respective Verizon MVNO deals, either Comcast or Charter—or both—might move in and buy Dish Network, once the satellite TV operator is set-up by T-Mobile to replace Sprint as the No. 4 U.S. wireless operator.
For his part, however, Roberts seemed to indicate today that Comcast is pretty happy with the wireless status quo.
“I don't know why we would change direction,” he said.