Consumer Reports had a good article on cell phone services through cable companies: Why Cell Phone Service From Your Cable Company May Make Sense. I’ve been getting cell phone service from the cable company for several years now. I can confirm the services work well for my needs at a low cost.
When I lived in California, the cable company in the area was Comcast. Comcast uses the brand Xfinity for its services. I used Xfinity Internet for home Internet and Xfinity Mobile for mobile.
The underlying services for Xfinity Mobile are carried on the Verizon network, which has good coverage. Xfinity Mobile has two plans: a By-the-Gig plan and an unlimited plan. Both plans include unlimited calls and texts. The difference is only in mobile data.
The By-the-Gig plan is the best when you don’t use much mobile data because you’re on WiFi all the time. You pay $15 per GB of mobile data shared by all lines in your household. If you have five lines and the five lines use 1 GB of mobile data combined when you turn off mobile data and only use WiFi, you pay $15/month, averaging only $3/month per line plus taxes. You don’t have to choose how much data you’ll use beforehand. If you normally use 1 GB but you used 2 GB in a month, you will pay another $15 for the extra GB for that one month before dropping down to $15 again in the following month.
The unlimited plan is the best when you use a lot of mobile data out and about. You pay $45/month for one line, $40/month per line for two lines, $33/month per line for three lines, or $30/month per line for four lines.
If you have a mix of heavy mobile data users and light mobile data users in your household, you can put some lines on the By-the-Gig plan and some lines on the unlimited plan. If you have some months of heavy use mixed with some months of light use, you can switch to the unlimited plan when you expect heavy use and switch back to the By-the-Gig plan when you’re back to light use.
After I moved to Nevada, the cable company here is Charter. Charter uses the brand Spectrum for its services. I’m using Spectrum Internet and Spectrum Mobile.
Spectrum Mobile is similar to Xfinity Mobile. It also uses Verizon’s network. It also has a By-the-Gig plan and an unlimited plan. The By-the-Gig plan charges $14 per GB of mobile data, taxes included. The unlimited plan charges $45/month per line with no multi-line discount.
Another difference is that the minimum in Xfinity Mobile’s By-the-Gig plan is 1 GB shared among all lines while Spectrum Mobile’s minimum is 1 GB per line. If you have five lines on Xfinity Mobile and the five lines combined only use 1 GB of mobile data, you pay $15/month plus taxes for all five lines. If you have five lines on Spectrum Mobile, you’ll have to pay minimum $14/month per line, which comes to $70/month for all five lines.
Spectrum Mobile isn’t as good as Xfinity Mobile due to its higher minimum in the By-the-Gig plan and the lack of multi-line discount in the unlimited plan. I’m thinking of switching to a different provider.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
When I started with Xfinity Mobile, the catch was that you had to buy a phone from them. I bought a cheap phone from them for $1 when they had a sale. I didn’t have to use their cheap phone because once you have it, you can just take the SIM card out and put it in any other unlocked phone that works on the Verizon network.
Both Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile now let you bring your own devices but they limit them to iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, and Google Pixel phones. Before they send you a SIM card, they ask you to provide the IMEI number of your phone, from which they can tell which brand it is. If it’s not an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or a Google Pixel phone, they won’t give you a SIM card unless you buy a phone from them.
This is only a business decision, not a technical limitation. Other unlocked phones that work on the Verizon network will also work once you get the SIM card. So you just need the IMEI number of an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or a Google Pixel phone to request the SIM card. It can be an old phone of those three brands that you no longer use. Or you can ask a friend or a family member who has a phone of those brands. After you pass the initial screening and you get the SIM card, you can put the SIM card in a different phone and it will work as long as your phone is unlocked and it supports the Verizon network. My inexpensive Moto G works just fine.