Charter Communications is the second largest cheapest cable provider in the United States, but now they are starting to sound more like a wireless provider. The comments of CEO Tom Rutledge to analysts on the conference call to discuss fourth quarter earnings show that they are now concentrating on wireless communication.
Much of the conference involved the plan of Charter Communications to introduce a new mobile service in the year 2018. As per the reports, the new mobile service will integrate the Wi-Fi services of Charter with the mobile network of Verizon.
“Our goal is to include wireless services in our packages and drive more customer relationship growth,” Rutledge said. Charter is also planning filed trials to find how they can mix their wired networks with the best internet services and speedy 5G wireless connections. “Over the long term, our goals with wireless and mobility and our wireless business plan will broaden,” the CEO added.
Rutledge also noted that most of the twenty-two million broadband users of Charter already use Wi-Fi routers and that they serve 200 million plus routers. “Many of those are phones and have a contract with a traditional mobile cellular provider,” he said. “But, 75% of the bits on those devices are coming through the Wi-Fi platform. So we’re a wireless provider of data services today.”
These numbers could increase even more, as more people are turning to virtual and augmented reality offerings that make use of goggles and smartphones. “They’re less about mobility than about capacity and low latency, and our networks set up well from a capital cost perspective,” Rutledge said, adding that he sees opportunities for Charter to use 5G or Wi-Fi to serve to the needs of mobile users in specific areas like malls.
For the traditional cable services, Charter said that their subscriber numbers has declined 1.3% to reach 16.8 million in the fourth quarter. Much of this decline in subscribers came after Charter ended the discount plans that were offered by Time Warner Cable.
“There were 96,000 different promotional offers out there,” Rutledge says. “The sheer logistics of managing that has been a challenge….In the fall of 2015 those offers were significant and they obviously went through close [of the deals] — even a little bit afterward.”