Altice USA ditched contracts and bundles, following rival Verizon in rolling out a more flexible way for customers to buy broadband, mobile and TV service from its Optimum and Suddenlink brands.
Called Optimum FlexAbility, the new approach allows customers to buy either one or multiple services and change their plan choices at any time. Altice USA pitched the offer as “risk-free”, noting there is no fee to downgrade to a lower tier for any service, there is no annual contract and customers who sign on are provided a 60-day money-back guarantee.
"We know that no two households are the same, and Optimum FlexAbility lets customers choose the right services for them with the ability to change their plan as their needs evolve," Matt Marino, Altice USA's EVP of Consumer Services, told Fierce.
Broadband options on the table include 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps and 1-gig service tiers, while mobile plans offer 1 GB, 3 GB or unlimited data. Rather than offering a discount for multiple mobile lines, Altice said pricing is consistent for each line added.
TV packages range from a basic broadcast offer with local news to more inclusive options with sports, entertainment and kids content, with streaming offered as an alternative. Pricing for TV options now includes the cost of a set-top box rental.
Internet costs range from $29.99 per month for the 300 Mbps package to $49.99 for 1-gig service. Mobile pricing starts at $14 per month for the 1 GB data plan and goes up to $45 for unlimited. And finally, traditional TV packages range from $29 per month for Optimum Basic with 50+ channels to $94 for Premier with 420+ channels including HBO Max, Starz, and Showtime and more. The Stream TV option is $5 per month, or free with the 1-gig internet option.
Altice’s play is strikingly similar to Verizon’s Mix & Match strategy, which initially included its mobile unlimited data plans before being expanded in January 2020 to include customized broadband and TV services. Like Altice’s new offer, Verizon’s Mix & Match program eliminated annual contracts.
During Verizon’s Q2 2021 earnings call, CEO Hans Vestberg said its Mix & Match campaign has “led to strong performance across both” its wireless and Fios offerings.
Last month, Verizon’s Consumer Group chief Ronan Dunne noted at an investor conference the program “continues to resonate strongly” with customers. He added “customers are staying longer and they're spending more with us. So, we're seeing real ARPU and ARPA growth. And I think quality of experience, plus choice within the proposition, is what's driving that.”
The move comes as Altice looks to revive broadband subscriber additions and jumpstart its lagging wireless MVNO business following the abrupt departure of Altice’s COO and telecom chief in September.
“It looks like new management has new ideas,” Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner said. He noted Optimum FlexAbility’s similarity to Verizon’s Mix & Match program, but said it’s not necessarily surprising Altice is following suit given Verizon “has been pretty successful with their offer” and many of Altice’s former Cablevision markets “are smack in the middle of Verizon markets.”
While the offer could help it better compete against Verizon, Entner pointed out “the big difference between Fios and Altice is Fios is symmetric and Altice isn’t.” An Altice USA representative contended it does offer symmetrical speeds through its Optimum Fiber product, which currently covers around 20% of its Optimum footprint.
Entner concluded “More customer friendly pricing always helps. The question is how much."
This story has been updated with comments from Altice USA as well as plan pricing.