Charter still figuring out Spectrum Guide rollout strategy

Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) shed light on its plans to roll out its Spectrum Guide cloud-based user interface, not just across its own footprint, but those of soon-to-be acquired cable systems for Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. 

That plan, however, still seems to have a lot development still in front of it. 

"With regard to the guide, we're rolling it out now and we have the ability to roll it out inside our own footprint this year, meaning the existing footprint," said Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter, during the MSO's fourth quarter earnings call Thursday. "The transition process of integrating the other companies and building a game plan to roll it out is going to take longer… We're not going to get them completely rolled out this fiscal year, but I think we can begin the process by the end of this year."

Spectrum Guide uses technology from ActiveVideo to process the UI at the server level and is able to display the UI on older legacy set-tops as an MPEG video stream. This means Charter doesn't have to roll out new CPE to deploy the service.

Rutledge said Charter has "gotten all the bugs out" and that the system "works very well." Deployment strategy, however, is a work in progress.  

"The choice before us will be do we roll it out on every outlet in mass, or do we roll it out incrementally to just new customers, and then begin to make it optional to existing customers? And the tension there is that there's some people who are just confused by new user interfaces, and you have to manage that process of customer education, as well as the desire to get a highly functional UI out in front of everyone simultaneously.

"So, we're still wrestling with the right rollout strategy, but, operationally, it works very well and it's capable of being fully deployed," he added. 

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