Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said his cable company continues to experiment with high-frequency, high-capacity, low-latency “5G” wireless network technologies, calling small cell connectivity to the MSO’s network “our future and our current state.”
Speaking to investors Tuesday morning for Charter’s first-quarter earnings call, Rutledge said that millimeter wave technology will allow Charter to accelerate the 1 Gbps speed it currently delivers on its Wi-Fi routers.
“We think that speeds will continue to increase in the home and in the workplace,” he said. “If we need to put that in a mobile environment, our plant lends itself to that in the long run.”
“Those kinds of 5G opportunities are years away,” he added, “and they’re certainly even further away on a market-wide deployment perspective. But we’re using our experimental licenses to test our capabilities across the spectrum.”
In the near term, however, Rutledge said Charter will continue to base any wireless plans it develops on its MVNO deal with Verizon. He told investors that Charter didn’t feel the need to make major spectrum purchases during the FCC’s recent auction in order to augment the MVNO arrangement with its own mobile network infrastructure.
“We are happy with our MVNO and don’t feel today that we have a need for that kind of spectrum,” Rutledge said.
Charter is diving into the wireless business as its wireline broadband business continues to expand. The company added 428,000 high-speed internet users in the first quarter, despite strong headwinds associated in its conversion of the legacy Time Warner Cable footprint to the Spectrum brand.