Comcast is increasingly looking like a mobile operator wannabe—not only is it moving to usage-based charging
, but now it’s rolling out an app designed to compete with over-the-top (OTT) players like Skype and Google Voice.
Comcast announced it is rolling out a new feature, called Voice 2go, that lets users of its Xfinity Voice service make calls and send texts using their home phone number over any Wi-Fi or cellular network. The Verge reports
Xfinity Voice users need to download a mobile app—that runs on any iOS or Android smartphone—and then can make calls for free over Wi-Fi or pay standard data rates for calls made via operators’ mobile networks. Eventually, Comcast said it will let users assign four different phone numbers to the plan so that different family members can make on-the-go calls via unique numbers.
Yankee Group Research VP Brian Partridge comments
“With the dream of offering a mobile phone service via licensed spectrum presently on the shelf, U.S. multi-service operators like Comcast are moving to a series of more cost-effective Plan Bs to fill their mobility gaps. In this case, Comcast is offering an over-the-top alternative to Skype. While I wouldn’t expect this offering to have a material effect on Comcast revenues, it may prove to be the start of a larger trend among cable operators that could threaten OTT players like Skype and Google Voice in the long run. The new Voice 2go service will appeal to Xfinity Voice customers looking for a cheap way to avoid draining mobile minutes with the added convenience of being able to use their home phone number to do so. If the quality of experience is excellent, and that is a big if, offering an innovative service like this can add value to the Comcast brand and enhance its standing in the eyes of its customers."