By Aaron Pressman
March 31, 2017

Comcast is bringing the prepaid model that helped greatly expand the mobile phone market to its home Internet service. By having customers pay for service in advance each month, the leading broadband provider won’t need to perform a credit check and people who may not have a bank account or credit card can sign up.

Verizon also recently introduced prepaid home broadband service, as the entire industry looks for new avenues of growth. The total number of broadband connections appears to be close to peaking and an increasing number of existing customers are “cutting the cord” to rely only on their mobile Internet connection. With the new prepaid options, Internet service providers are aiming for growth in an untapped segment of consumers.

Comcast’s prepaid service, under its Xfinity brand, will be sold at Boost Mobile stores as an $80 connection kit with the needed hardware and including 30 days of Internet service at a download speed of 10 megabits-per-second. Upload speeds will be only 1 Mbps. Customers can purchase additional service in chunks of seven days for $15 or 30 days for $45. The company is also offering a similar prepaid kit for cable TV service at the same price.

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But buying prepaid Internet or TV service won’t be as easy as grabbing a new smartphone at the local corner store and starting prepaid phone service. Comcast isn’t hooking up the required wiring to more homes for the prepaid service–only people who live a home or apartment that already has Comcast wiring can sign up. “You must be at least 18 years of age, live in a Comcast-ready home, and be in an area where this service is offered,” Comcast said on its web site.

The program, which was rolled out on a more limited basis starting last year, follows Comcast’s efforts to combat cord cutting among its cable TV subscribers by offering lower cost options that include far fewer channels, known in the industry as “skinny bundles.”

Comcast Will Finally Offer Customers Wireless Service:

Verizon’s prepaid Internet offering includes a $90 option to wire a home that is within the company’s FiOS service area. Prepaid Internet service is $60 a month for a connection at 25 Mbps for upload and download speed.

Comcast (cmcsa) is the largest U.S. home broadband provider, with some 24.7 million customers at the end of 2016. Even in a stagnant overall market, it has been taking share, increasing broadband customers by 6% last year. Verizon’s (vz) Fios service had 5.7 million subscribers, up 4%. But Verizon’s older, telephone-line based Internet service has been shrinking so the carrier’s overall broadband subscriber count actually decreased 1% to 7 million.

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