Craig Cowden, the Senior Vice President of wireless for Charter, explained some of their interesting growth plans at a recent U.S. Senate hearing. I think it’s important for all of us to take a moment and pull the camera back. Let’s think about where we are so far in the rapidly changing and expanding wireless industry, and where we are going.
Cowden said, when a company enters a space the way Charter Spectrum Mobile Charter is entering wireless, they use the newest technology. This helps them get better quality, speed and efficiency at a lower cost.
This testimony reminds us of how fast and how much wireless has grown as an industry over the last few decades. Especially in the last years. And going forward, how the next few years will continue to grow and change as new players like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile enter the market. In addition, there will be other new players.
Remember when Facebook and Amazon gave wireless a try several years ago. They failed back then, but I see them still interested in the space. Plus, there are many other companies in other industries looking at wireless as well.
Cable TV in wireless: Spectrum Mobile, Xfinity Mobile, Altice Mobile
The newest version of Wi-Fi is called 802.11ax and this will let Charter offer fast and reliable connectivity. The speed and capacity sounds similar to what we are expecting from the new 5G technology that every carrier is rushing to bring to market.
This could be important to a wireless service provider like Spectrum Mobile because they intend to use Wi-Fi more and reduce regular wireless service usage as much as possible.
Charter is doing this to reduce their cost of providing service and therefore to increase their profitability. Remember, they resell Verizon Wireless service as an MVNO. Since Wi-Fi costs them less, the more they can get customers to use it, the more profitable their wireless move will be.
Going forward 5G plays important role in growth of wireless carriers
It will be interesting to see how their growth strategy plays out going forward. Comcast Xfinity Mobile wireless growth strategy seems to be succeeding for them. Will Charter take the same route? We’ll have to wait till next year for Altice Mobile to launch.
5G will also play an important role in the next few years. 5G will be able to provide not only fast wireless service, but also fixed wireless service. That means faster service for your smartphone on the wireless network and for service when you are at home, in the office or out an about in the marketplace.
Cowden also focused on the issue of limited spectrum. This has been a problem for years. Every year, we use more and more wireless data with all the apps on smartphones like the iPhone and Android. We have seen the number of apps explode over the last decade from a few hundred to more than two million.
How limited wireless spectrum will impact Spectrum Mobile
The increasing demand for wireless data spectrum is putting real pressure on every wireless carrier to meet the demands of their users. Technology continues to improve letting carriers send more data over the same spectrum. However, this limited spectrum issue remains a real issue for the industry.
Remember, Spectrum Mobile, like Xfinity Mobile and Altice Mobile is not a stand-alone service. Customers must be TV customers in order to get wireless. This means as an add-on service it does not have to be as dominant or even as profitable as a stand-alone service.
In fact, in my opinion, the cable television companies don’t even have to earn a profit on wireless and it would still be successful. The reason is simple. It wireless is successful, it would let cable TV carriers hang onto their customer base during the industry transformation we are now going through.
Cable TV strategy is different than other wireless carriers
The cable television industry focus on entering wireless is different from the wireless market leaders like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Traditional wireless carriers are very active in the wireless marketing wars. They are continually trying to out-shine each other.
Cable TV wireless providers are taking a different path. They see wireless as a piece of the pie. So, they have a different set of factors for them to be successful in this space.
The wireless world has been growing and changing so much of the last few decades it can make your head spin. Today, we are entering the next decade of growth and change. I see the existing leaders continuing to lead. However, I also see others like the cable television companies growing as well. And who knows what is coming next with regards to Amazon, Facebook and others.
We don’t yet know what the wireless industry will look like going forward or who will lead or what new changes will impact the space. All we do know is wireless has been growing and changing for decades and that is not stopping. We are starting out on the next wave of growth and change in this industry.
So, keep your eyes on Charter Spectrum Mobile. There are no guarantees of success. They must do everything right. However, if successful, wireless could be very important to them going forward. Just like it is with Xfinity Mobile.
There will be plenty of changes. Plenty of wins and losses. Plenty of ups and downs. Any way you slice it, this industry and the players will be very interesting to watch over the next several years. So, stay tuned.