New Comcast services threaten wireless text and data revenuehttp://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57439667-94/new-comcast-services-threaten-wireless-text-and-data-revenue/?tag=cnetRiver
Comcast is taking aim at traditional SMS text messaging and wireless data revenue with two new services introduced this week at the Cable Show.
by Marguerite Reardon May 22, 2012 4:28 PM PDT
In the latest Comcast product announcement, the company said it will allow its voice subscribers to make phone calls and send text messages for free using either Wi-Fi or 3G/4G cellular networks.
The new service, called Voice 2Go, will be available through the Xfinity Connect Mobile app, which can be installed on Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Users can make phone calls and send text messages through the app using their home phone number.
The calls do not count against their wireless minutes. And text messages bypass the carrier SMS network and are free. (Calls and texts sent over 3G and 4G networks do consume data services.)
And because the feature can be used via Wi-Fi, it also allows users who don't want to subscribe to a smartphone plan to turn their iPads or iPod Touch devices into mobile phones that can be used to make and receive phone calls as well as send text messages. Of course, the limitation is that the service can only be used in Wi-Fi hotspots.
While many other companies already offer voice-over-IP and Wi-Fi texting apps for iOS and Android, Comcast's service allows people to use their existing home phone numbers. So it could present even more of a threat to carrier SMS texting revenue. Currently, major wireless operators make huge profit margins on SMS texting services. AT&T and Verizon Wireless charge $20 extra for unlimited texting.
The news comes a day after Comcast and four other cable operators said they will soon allow their customers to roam onto each other's public Wi-Fi networks. The CableWiFi network provides acces to more than 50,000 hotspots across the country. And the companies say they will be adding more hotspots. And more cable operators may join the coalition.
So far Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, and Bright House Communications are all participating.