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Altice Mobile flexes its data options

Looking to broaden its mobile data options and appeal to wider set of customer types, Altice USA has added 1-gigabyte and 3-gigabyte monthly data options to an original unlimited data plan for Altice Mobile.

Here's how the new plans, which emphasize reduced pricing of $10 per line for Altice USA's Optimum and Suddenlink video and broadband customers, stack up:

  • 1GB of data, plus unlimited talk and text for $12 per month per line for Optimum and Suddenlink customers ($22 per month for non-customers).
  • 3GB of high-speed data plus unlimited talk and text for $20 per month per line for Optimum and Suddenlink customers ($30 per month for non-customers).
  • Unlimited data, plus unlimited talk and text for $30 per month per line for Optimum and Suddenlink customers ($40 per month for non-customers).

According to the fine print, speeds are reduced to 2G levels when customers on the unlimited tier exceed 20GB during the month, or when mobile customers on the 1GB or 3GB tiers exceed their monthly data limits and opt not to buy additional data. The plans also allow for tethering at up to 600 Kbit/s and video streaming at standard definition (480p) quality.

Altice USA said mobile subs can upgrade their plan at any time. Altice Mobile customers on the 1GB or 3GB plans can add extra buckets of 1GB for an additional $6.

The new plans enter the picture not long after Altice Mobile briefly reinstituted a $20 per month per line price for an original, baseline unlimited offering that debuted last September. Altice Mobile got off the blocks last fall with a "price for life" offer for its Optimum and Suddenlink customers, and $30 per line for others who live in or near its 21-state footprint.

Altice Mobile, now based on an MVNO with T-Mobile following T-Mo's merger with Sprint, added 35,000 lines in Q2 2020 (slowed slightly from 41,000 adds in the prior quarter), ending the period with 140,000 lines.

"We know that data consumption can vary from consumer to consumer and on a month to month basis," Hakim Boubazine, Altice USA's president of telecommunications and COO, said in a statement. "Altice Mobile's flexible data options provide customers more control over their wireless experience with the ability to switch plans based on what makes the most sense for their lifestyle while always staying at an attractive price."

Reaching profitability remains top priority
Though Altice USA intends to cast a wider net with its new set of mobile plans, turning Altice Mobile into a profitable business, rather than focusing on massive sales volumes, is the top priority.

"This is a long term business for us where we're not going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year just to get volume; that's not our name of the game," Dexter Goei, Altice USA's CEO, said during last week's Bank of America Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. "We absolutely want to be able to get to profitability as quickly as possible."

Altice Mobile's EBIDTA losses could reach as high as $100 million this year, though Goei expects those losses to come in below that level.

"I'd like to be able to achieve [profitability] by next year, but definitely by sometime in 2022 will be the ... worst case scenario," Goei said of Altice Mobile.

Altice USA, Comcast and Charter Communications have made a dent in the US mobile market with their respective no-frills wireless offerings, but they'll need to lower their costs if they are to mount a more serious, long-term threat to AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, Craig Moffett, analyst with MoffettNathanson, said in a recent report that sized up the US wireless industry.

One key to lowering those costs involves offloading much more traffic from their MVNO agreements. Altice USA has been testing CBRS using unlicensed spectrum but did not join fellow cable operators Comcast and Charter in the recent bidding for licensed spectrum in the CBRS band.


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