Visible Launches Party Pay

The Verizon flanker brand, Visible, just launched what it calls Party Pay. With Party Pay, groups of up to four people can get discounts on their service while still maintaining their own, separate billing.

Previously, Visible offered only one plan. For $40 per month, subscribers could get unlimited minutes, texts, and data over Verizon’s network. Visible has a few limitations: hotspot speeds are throttled, a limited set of devices are compatible, and subscribers have low priority during periods of network congestion. Still, at $40 per month, Visible was offering a good price for an unlimited plan that ran over Verizon’s network. Today, Visible’s pricing got a lot better. With Party Pay, subscribers now pay a per-line rate determined by how many people are in their party:

  • 1 person: $40 per month
  • 2 people: $35 per month
  • 3 people: $30 per month
  • 4 people: $25 per month

Party pay is not a traditional family plan. Visible doesn’t require that users be family members or even know each other in real life:1

If you’re already active on Visible, get a party link from a loved/liked/iffy-about one, or an internet stranger. Click the link, and ask to join the party.

If you want to, it’s possible to treat Party Pay like a family plan—though it might take a bit of work. Here’s what a Visible employee on Reddit suggests:

How can I pay for everyone in my party (like a family plan)?

Easiest way to do this is just adding the same payment info to all the accounts you want to pay for and turn on Autopay.

Parties don’t have a manager. Anyone in a party that is not full can invite others, approve requests from people wanting to join, or choose to leave a party. It is not possible to kick another member out of a party.

If a subscriber leaves a party, Visible’s rates for those still in the party will adjust accordingly. Here are excerpts from Visible’s FAQ explaining the process:

If one of my party members miss a payment or leaves the party, what happens?
When someone misses a payment or lapses service, pauses service without billing, cancels their account, ports out and leaves Visible, they are removed from the party. When that happens the party membership changes and Visible monthly service amount changes based on the number of members in the party.

If one of my party members leaves the party, what happens?
They are removed from the party. When that happens Visible monthly service amount changes for the remaining members based on the number of members still in the party at the time the next bill is created [or something to this effect].

At $25 per person for an unlimited plan over Verizon’s network, Visible’s Party Play is hard to beat in price. That said, it may not be for everyone. A fair number of subscribers have reported issues with aspects of Visible’s service (see my full review).

With the introduction of Party Play, Visible made a few other changes. New customers now get their first month of service for $25 regardless of their party size. Additionally, the Visible referral program is being phased out. Existing subscribers will keep their bill credits for past referrals, but Visible won’t continue to give referral codes to new customers.

Feel free to leave invitation links for your party in the comments (but check if another commenter has open spaces in their party first).

Xfinity Mobile’s Pricing vs. The Competition

5/17/2020 update: Xfinity’s 1GB plan that was $12 per month at the time this post was written is now $15 per month.

One of my recent posts about Xfinity Mobile received a comment on Reddit that got me thinking:

While Xfinity does have decent options (especially if you don’t need too much data) – it isn’t necessarily very different from other MVNO’s.

Let’s dive into that. It’s not always possible to make apples-to-apples comparisons among carriers since each carrier has its own way of structuring plans. Still, I’ll try my best to compare Xfinity Mobile’s prices to the best deals available from Verizon and other carriers that use Verizon’s network.

Low data use

Both the commenter and I think Xfinity Mobile may be a good option for people who don’t use a lot of data. For a base price of $12 per line, Xfinity Mobile offers a 5-line plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 10GB of shared data. In comparison, a postpaid Verizon plan with 8GB of shared data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited talk would have a base price of $34 per line. It’s harder to make a close comparison with Verizon’s prepaid plans. 5 lines with 1GB of data each, unlimited talk, and unlimited text would have a base price of $30 per line. For 6GB of data on each line, the cost would be $32 per line.

If we look at individual plans rather than family plans, Xfinity Mobile still looks like a winner, but the competition is tighter. 2GB of data, unlimited talk, and unlimited text has a base price of only $24 per month with Xfinity. Verizon prepaid charges a base price of $30 for a plan with only 1GB. Verizon postpaid is a whole lot more expensive for a comparable plan. However, some Verizon MVNOs have similar prices. BOOM! offers 2GB of data, unlimited talk, and unlimited texts for under $30 per month. Total Wireless offers 5GB of data for a base price of about $33. Red Pocket offers 3GB of data for about $30.

Heavy data use

For heavy data use, Xfinity Mobile subscribers will probably want to turn to the carrier’s unlimited plans. These plans have a base price of $45 per line each month. At this point, Xfinity Mobile is no longer a clear winner, especially on family plans. With 5 lines on Verizon’s postpaid Start Unlimited plan, there is a base price of $30 per month. However, a single start unlimited line has a base price of $70, still a much higher rate than Xfinity charges. Visible, a flanker brand run by Verizon, offers unlimited plans for only $40 per month. Verizon MVNO Total Wireless has excellent prices on high-data allotment family plans. For example, 4 lines with 100GB of shared data come with a base price of about $24 per line.

Takeaway

Xfinity Mobile has extremely competitive prices for those who want service over Verizon’s network, don’t use a lot of data, and don’t mind being more tightly tied to other Xfinity services. For those who use moderate or large amounts of data (especially on family plans) Xfinity Mobile faces plenty of competition.

Xfinity Mobile’s BYOD Program – Phone List

Xfinity Mobile has a bring your own device (BYOD) program, but only a handful of phones are eligible. You can check a specific device’s eligibility with Xfinity’s compatibility tool.

BYOD-eligible Apple iPhone devices

The iPhone 6 and more recent Apple devices are likely to be eligible if they’re unlocked. However, iPhone models sold by certain carriers or in some regions of the world may be ineligible. I suggest double checking iPhones with Xfinity’s online tool.

BYOD-eligible Android devices

Only a small number of Android phones are officially compatible with Xfinity Mobile.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
  • Most Google Pixel devices

Most models of these devices will be compatible with Xfinity Mobile if they’re unlocked and were sold in the U.S. I suggest confirming compatibility on Xfinity’s website.

Possibly compatible Android phones

Some Samsung S20+ and S20 Ultra phones are permitted under Xfinity Mobile’s BYOD program. Here’s an excerpt from a support agent’s post on an Xfinity forum:

Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra 5G open-market devices purchased unlocked directly from Samsung.com, or from major retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart and Costco, will be supported for BYOD beginning on March 6, 2020.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G and Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G devices brought over from other carriers, like AT&T or T-Mobile, will not be available for BYOD until approximately three to six months after the March 6, 2020 launch.

I’m suspicious that Xfinity Mobile may have also added support for the Galaxy S20 5G UW and the Galaxy Note20 line, but I have not confirmed.

History & future of the Android BYOD program

Official details about devices Xfinity Mobile permits are shared in the carrier’s FAQ. Xfinity Mobile has expressed an intention to expand the number of devices on its Android BYOD list in the future:1

Right now, not all Android devices are compatible with Xfinity Mobile, but we’re working behind the scenes on making this possible in the near future.

I hope Xfinity Mobile aggressively opens up its Android BYOD program soon, but I’m not sure it will happen. Progress has been slow so far. Here’s an excerpt from a complaint posted by a Reddit user in early 2019:

[Xfinity Mobile] promised that it [Android BYOD] was coming over and over and here we are over a year later and still nothing… We did finally get iPhone byop but not a peep about android. I feel a little lied to.

Xfinity finally started to offer limited Android BYOD support in July 2019. Since the beginning of the BYOD program, Xfinity has expanded its initial list of supported devices to include the S10, S10+, S10e, Pixels, and some phones in the S20 line.2


Page last updated on 9/18/2020

Accountant calculating

Xfinity Mobile’s Pricing Strategy

Comcast’s cellular brand, Xfinity Mobile, appears awfully well priced. Somehow, Xfinity Mobile offers service over Verizon’s extensive network without the usual price tag. You can check Xfinity Mobile’s coverage at your location with the carrier’s coverage tool.

Unlimited minutes and texts are included for free in all of Xfinity Mobile’s plans. Subscribers just pay for data, and rates for data are reasonable. For $45 per month, a subscriber can get unlimited data. Alternatively, subscribers can purchase a set amount of data and share it among up to five lines:

  • 1GB data – $12 per month
  • 3GB data – $30 per month
  • 10GB data – $60 per month

A family could get five lines of service with 10GB of shared data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts for a base price of only $12 per line.1 Purchasing a comparable family plan from Verizon would be far more expensive. Even other mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that run over Verizon’s network charge far more for similar plans. Why is Xfinity Mobile so cheap?

(Added 5/17/2020: In the time since this post was published, Xfinity Mobile changed the 1GB option from $12 to $15 per month.)

Lock-in with other Xfinity services

Only customers with active Xfinity internet service are eligible to sign up for Xfinity Mobile. Some people who would have used internet service providers other than Xfinity may now choose Xfinity internet so that they can sign up for Xfinity Mobile. Similarly, potential fees incentivize Xfinity Mobile customers not to cancel other Xfinity services:2

$20 per line monthly charge applies if at least one of the following post-pay subscriptions are not maintained on the account: Xfinity TV, Internet or Voice service.

Competitors threaten Comcast. Like Comcast, Verizon’s Fios offers bundled TV, internet, and home phone service. Emerging technologies like 5G fixed wireless may create viable alternatives to conventional cable companies. By bundling several services together, Xfinity may make it more difficult for consumers to switch to competitors’ services.

Favorable MVNO terms

Xfinity Mobile is relatively new, but it already has a huge number of subscribers.3 While the agreements between MVNOs like Xfinity Mobile and host operators like Verizon are generally private, my impression is that MVNOs with large subscriber bases often receive substantially better rates than MVNOs with small subscriber bases. Xfinity Mobile may, in part, be able to offer low prices because it gets unusually good rates on access to Verizon’s network.

Future prices

While Xfinity Mobile’s service is well-priced today, it’s not guaranteed to stay that way forever. We’ve already seen one revamp in Xfinity Mobile’s price structure.

Other explanations

I haven’t seen Comcast executives explicitly explain their rationale for launching a mobile service, so all I can do is speculate. If you have other thoughts about Xfinity Mobile’s pricing strategy, please leave a comment!

Consumer Cellular Increases Data Limits

Yesterday, Consumer Cellular announced an increase in the data allotments it offers at different price points. The table below outlines the changes:

Monthly data costPrevious allotmentNew allotmentPercent increase
$50.25GB0.5GB100%
$102GB3GB50%
$205GB10GB100%
$3010GB16GB60%
$4020GB25GB25%

I spoke with a Consumer Cellular support agent who confirmed that these changes would automatically affect existing customers. For example, a customer who was paying $10 per month for 2GB of data will now be allotted 3GB of data per month at no extra charge.

It’s great to see a carrier improving customers’ plans without charging more or requiring customers to proactively opt-in to the changes. In some ways, it’s a bold business move. Customers who were paying $30 per month for 10GB could now downgrade to the $20 per month price tier and still receive 10GB of data. That said, I don’t expect a lot of customers will actually downgrade in response to the new pricing structure.

Sliding Data Limits

If you’re looking to reduce your data use, I highly recommend using what I call sliding data limits. Start each month by setting a data limit that’s well below the amount of data you’re allotted. Each time you hit your limit, reset it to something higher. Each time you change your limit, increase it by a smaller amount.

For example, let’s say you have 7GB of data allotted each month:

  • Start the month with a limit of 3GB
  • If you hit the 3GB limit, increase the limit to 5GB
  • If you hit the 5GB limit, increase the limit to 6GB
  • If you hit the 6GB limit, increase the limit to 6.5GB
  • Etc…

With this approach, you’ll be able to keep tabs on your data use and prevent overages with minimal effort.

Setting data limits

Android phones have a built-in feature for setting data limits. Unfortunately, iOS does not offer a comparable feature. iPhone users aren’t totally out of luck though. Many wireless carriers allow subscribers to set up data limits or usage alerts from their online accounts.

In Android 10, you can set limits by going to:
Settings > Network & internet > Mobile network > Data warning and limit

Your phone may account for data use a bit differently than your wireless carrier. If you’re allocated 7GB of data each month, you may want to conservatively set limits as if you’re allotted 6.9GB of data each month.

Hitting data limits

If you hit a limit you’ve set, data access will be cut off. You’ll probably be prompted with an alert like this one:


Mobile data is paused notification


Data warnings

With Android phones, it’s possible to set data warning alerts rather than strict limits. With alerts, you’ll receive a notification when you’ve used a certain amount of data. Further data access will not be automatically cut off.

You might want to use both limits and warnings at the same time. For example, if you start a month with a 3GB limit, you might also want to set a 1.5GB warning to give you a better sense of the rate at which you’re using data.