Charter, Future Wireless

At the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Tuesday, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said the company is looking toward a future that includes 10 Gbps symmetrical and a world of blended wired and wireline.

In greenfield construction, Rutledge pointed out that Charter is going all-fiber. However, in other areas the operator is “taking fiber deeper but not necessarily all the way.” He noted that through CableLabs efforts there’s a pathway to 10 gigabit symmetrical, and while Charter will have to make “some investments in our infrastructure” it won’t “have to rebuild it all.”

CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex extension does indeed offer symmetrical 10 Gbps, and the spec should be completed in 2017. A white paper, “Full Duplex DOCSIS Technology over HFC Networks” by CableLabs’ Belal Hamzeh is available here.

Charter’s plans involve mixing that high-capacity wireline network with future wireless services. “We have more than 200 million devices wirelessly connected to our network,” Rutledge said. “We are a wireless company.”

The MVNO agreement Charter has with Verizon will enable Charter to offer wireless services combining WiFi where available, and Verizon’s network in other areas. He said the company is going to start down the path of an MVNO, with a product perhaps available by end of 2017. But Rutledge did point out some inherent limitations, and said the company is thinking beyond the MVNO.

“We have this MVNO that we’ve exercised,” Rutledge noted. “It’s true that it doesn’t give you deep integration. So it has its limitations in terms of building a future product set.”

Charter, like many others, is looking toward future technologies like 5G. Rutledge said Charter is exploring these new technologies and “we think they fit very nicely with our business model.”

“We can attach wireless devices to that high-capacity wireline network in a way that I don’t think anybody else can really do at the same level of capital efficiency,” he added. “There is the possibility down the road of a whole new industry, essentially.”

Charter, Future Wireless