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Comcast Goes Wide With Prepaid Internet Product

Comcast said it has launched a prepaid Internet product across its service footprint, and that it expects to relaunch a prepaid video product later this year.

The full-footprint launch of the no-contract Xfinity Prepaid Internet follows the initial launch of that option last summer in select markets, including Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Indiana.

RELATED: Comcast Sets Launch of Prepaid TV and Internet Services

Comcast has a deal to sell prepaid services via thousands of Boost Mobile stores in areas where Comcast operates. Comcast said there are currently more than 800 participating Boost Mobile stores located in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Texas, and that Xfinity Prepaid services will be available to in more than 4,000 Boost Mobile stores across Comcast’s footprint by the end of the year.  Boost Mobile, a prepaid mobile division of  Sprint, is offering $5 discounts on Comcast’s prepaid Internet product.

Per the service web site, a starter kit for Xfinity Prepaid Internet is $80, and includes a wireless DOCSIS 3.0 gateway, speeds up to 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream, and 30 days of service. Customers can refill service for seven days for $15, or 30 days for $45. Pricing is similar for the current but evolving version of Comcast’s prepaid TV service.

Comcast, which began testing prepaid service in 2012, will be targeting the new offering to consumers without bank accounts or those who otherwise can't qualify for a post-paid service. Comcast notes that prepaid Internet comes without a credit check or an annual contract.

Recent figures from the FDIC indicate that there are about 9 million “unbanked” homes in the U.S., or 24.5 million are “underbanked” (they have bank accounts but also obtain financial products and services from outside the banking system).

Comcast has also inserted some policies that will help it to avoid cannibalizing its post-paid base. For instance, in addition to putting a tight collar on the maximum service speeds, an Xfinity Prepaid service can’t be used at an address that has an active billed-service account with Comcast, the FAQ notes.

"This offering is all about providing customers a flexible and predictable service that can accommodate individual lifestyles and financial needs," John Dixon, VP of consumer services group at Comcast, said in a statement. "Our prepaid service gives people more control over their monthly bills and lets families get easy Internet access for their home whenever they want it." 

Verizon Fios introduced prepaid TV, Internet and home phone service options earlier this month. Verizon’s prepaid Fios Internet product sells for $60 per month for 25 Mbps (upstream and downstream), with a WiFi router included.

RELATED: Verizon Fios Rolls Out Prepaid Option

Frontier Communications has also tried out a prepaid option for Internet service, though that option appears to no longer be active.

Comcast has not announced how many of its customers are taking a prepaid service. Last year, Comcast noted that it had not been counting prepaid customers in its earnings during the trials, and that it will continue to report subscriber figures that include only post-paid customers.