GCI’s Broadband-Mobile Bundle Post Gains Over Past Year
By Ted Hearn
Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2023 – A Cable One executive last Thursday made clear that pairing broadband with mobile service isn’t part of the company’s near-term strategy. But other traditional cable broadband providers have embraced mobile with gusto, especially Comcast and Charter, both of which just reported strong third quarter mobile gains.
In Alaska, GCI’s broadband-mobile combination called GCI+ is also growing in popularity, said Brian J. Wendling, Chief Accounting Officer & Principal Financial Officer of Liberty Broadband Corp., GCI’s corporate parent, to Wall Street analysts on Friday.
“GCI has also been successful in moving consumers to its converged GCI+ product offering, which combines GCI's flagship data product with their wireless offering and provides significant savings to the customers,” he said, a day after Cable One addressed its latest thoughts on mobile.
Over the past 12 months, GCI reported adding 3,800 revenue-generating wireless subscribers and 2,100 revenue-generating cable modem customers. GCI+ plans with Internet and unlimited mobile service start at $99.99 per month.
Comcast and Charter provide mobile service via network access leasing deals with Verizon. GCI, meanwhile, has built its own 5G network and continues to invest in it.
Wendling explained that although GCI’s broadband-mobile approach has put a temporary dent in ARPU (average revenue per user), it has also reduced subscriber churn, adding that “customers who bundle Internet and mobile have nearly 50% lower churn than stand-alone customers.”
He said he expects margins at GCI+ to increase “over time as customers upgrade their services.”
Last quarter, Charter added 594,000 mobile customers, while Comcast added 294,000 – the clear highlights from a period that was status quo on broadband gains but scarred by steep cable TV losses of 810,000 combined.
Smaller cable broadband providers have a mobile option via a network leasing deal that the National Content & Technology Cooperative (NCTC) struck in April with AT&T.