Charter CEO: Broadband is 'a major growth opportunity for us'

By Jim O'Neill on Feb 04 2016 at 8:30 AM
Charter CEO: Broadband is 'a major growth opportunity for us'

Charter Communications, which added 115,000 high-speed Internet subs in Q4, sees the broadband business as a major opportunity that it so far has under penetrated.

Speaking to analysts on the company’s Q4 earnings call, Charter President & CEO Tom Rutledge pointed to the market share telcos like Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink enjoy – all of which have more broadband subscribers than Charter – and indicated the cable operator would increase its efforts to take share away from them.

“We have a lot of growth ahead of us,” he said.

(For more on Charter's earnings, see Despite adding subs, Charter’s loss widens for Q4)

But the company is going to find that battle to be a tough one; AT&T and CenturyLink both plan substantial gigabit broadband deployments and Verizon already offers speeds higher than Charter’s top tier offering of 60 Mbps.

And, Rutledge said the operator isn’t planning for a rapid rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which allows large-scale deployment of gigabit speeds, saying it likely would wait to until next year, when 3.1 modems are available commercially in large quantities.

Still, Charter has seen good growth of it’s broadband (it added 432,000 subs in 2014 and 497,000 in 2015), and is aggressively promoting the 60 Mbps service with no data caps as a way to attract customers who also want OTT services.

Rutledge said “the vast majority” of Charter’s subscribers also subscribed to at least one OTT service, and said the increasing momentum of on-demand services also is increasing the need for efficient cross-platform search and recommendation software to allow “more efficient” navigation than does the traditional TV grid that “consumers stumble around in.”

He also said that while most Charter customers took a form of the operator’s extended basic tier, he believes skinny bundles of content are “consumer friendly” and would still allow operator’s to offer better choices to customers.

“If programmers would allow content to be sold in skinny packages, which I think would be very consumer friendly, you could still build good bundles,” he said. “OTT is affecting the value of content in a good way, from our perspective.”

Stay tuned.

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