Comcast Broadens Retail Scope of Prepaid Internet Test

Comcast has expanded the retail reach of its ongoing prepaid Internet service trial, extending it to select retail stores in parts of Arkansas and Tennessee.

According to the Web site for the product, called Xfinity Prepaid Internet, Comcast is now selling it in two Smooth Wireless stores in West Memphis, Ark.; and in more than a dozen Smooth Wireless, 901 Wireless, Odyssey Cellular, and EZ Wireless stores located in Memphis, Tenn.

Those additions expand on Comcast’s previous prepaid Internet retail efforts in Philadelphia, and parts of Delaware, New Jersey and Florida. Comcast, which started to test the service in the fall of 2012, has also set-up a toll-free number to fulfill orders.

Comcast said the prepaid Internet offering is still considered a market trial, and that the retail expansion is to help it test the product in different geographies, with a wider range of demographics, and to help the operator develop best practices for prepaid offerings.

Taking advantage of a model that is popular in the mobile industry, Comcast’s no-contract, prepaid Internet service is limited to consumers who don’t have an active account with the operator or do not otherwise qualify for one of its post-paid products. For consumers that do qualify, Comcast offers a starter kit for $69.95 that comes with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, required cabling and 30 days of service. After that, customers can obtain service refills -- $15 for seven days, or $45 for 30 days – by purchasing refill codes from participating retailers or online at a 

The speed of the offering is currently limited to 3 Mbps downstream by 768 kbps upstream, so it isn’t considered “broadband” when viewed through the lens of the FCC, which recently voted to raise its definition from 4 Mbps down/1 Mbps up, to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.

Comcast is also testing a prepaid TV service that features a $69.95 starter kit that includes a standard-def Digital Transport Adapter, 30 days of service and a sports-free TV lineup.