US cable operator Comcast jumped into the prepaid arena with a mobile tariff that includes unlimited 5G data paired with its 23 million Wi-Fi hotspots, as part of a scheme to offer a low-cost monthly service.

The prepaid service, which is called Now, also includes unlimited talk and text for $25 per line.

Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore told Mobile World Live he has wondered when and where the top US cable companies would get into prepaid “and now we have a partial answer”.

Moore noted the Now service taps into some of Comcast’s strengths, which, in addition to the Wi-Fi access points, includes more than 700 retail stores.

“This gives more flexibility to Comcast in terms of reaching customers,” Moore explained. “This will be easier to sell to young people and to people with dicey credit.”

He isn’t keen on the Now name, which, unlike Comcast’s Xfinity product branding, will be difficult to search online.

Comcast launched its mobile service in 2017 through an MVNO agreement with Verizon. The company uses its Wi-Fi access points to lower the cost of the MVNO agreement by provisioning more of its own backhaul traffic.

In Q4 2023, Comcast added 310,000 mobile phone subscribers to bring its total to 6.58 million.

The Now brand is also being used for a broadband service that includes two tariffs: 100 Mb/s for $30 per month or 200 Mb/s for $45. Both include unlimited data and an Xfinity gateway.

The cable company is also offering a Now streaming service that includes live and on-demand programming from more than 40 networks for $20 a month, as well as a Now Wi-Fi pass that gives customers unlimited access to the hotspots for $20 over 30 days.

Dave Watson, president and CEO of connectivity and platforms at Comcast, stated the Now portfolio rounds out the company’s product offering “to provide something for every consumer segment of the market”.

Initial customer trials for Now internet and mobile are underway in two US states, with a full-scale launch across all Comcast service areas expected in the coming weeks. The streaming service and Wi-Fi access options are available across its footprint.