Charter Communications is just firing up its MVNO agreement with Verizon, but CEO Tom Rutledge suggested there’s room in the company’s plans to bring some of its gigabit internet speeds from WiFi into the mobile space.
Rutledge previously indicated Charter’s vision of wireless service includes the hybrid use of WiFi and cellular, as well as a further extension of Charter’s network “at some point in the future.” But during Charter’s Tuesday earnings call, Rutledge said the company is currently “happy” with its MVNO agreement and isn’t worried about not picking up 600 MHz spectrum for underlying coverage in the recent FCC auction.
His comments came despite opinions from analysts like MoffettNathanson last month that the company is “left with few options for wireless outside of their Verizon MVNO” and could be stuck “in a pickle that can only be remedied by buying a wireless operator.”
“As you know, that that low frequency opportunity is still, from a practical point of view, a number of years away. So, it has no impact on sort of a short midterm opportunity in the marketplace. We think that the MVNO does have that potential,” Rutledge commented. “And so we’re happy with our MVNO. We’re happy with going forward with it and don’t feel today that we have any need for that kind of spectrum. And we think that if we ever do have such a need that opportunities will be available and get it.”
Charter appears to have its eye on other spectrum opportunities for the future, though, particularly as they relate to 5G.
Right now, Charter has a network of WiFi routers in “almost every home” it serves, and those, Rutledge noted, are incrementally capable of speeds of around 1 Gbps. The potential is there to accelerate those speeds with millimeter wave spectrum, he said, and Charter’s setup is well-suited to bring that connectivity to mobile.
“With regard to 5G, we’ve been experimenting with frequencies. But basically, our view of it is that small cell connectivity to our high capacity network is our future and our current state of wireless,” Rutledge said. “We think that speeds will continue to increase in the home and in the workplace, and if we need to put that into a mobile environment that our plan lends itself that as well in the long run.”
However, Rutledge observed that those kinds of 5G opportunities are “still a number of years away” and “certainly even farther away from a market-wide deployment perspective.”
Filed Under: Infrastructure