Blog January 23, 2018

Both Wireline and Wireless Broadband Are Part of the Broadband Solution

Charter is investing in a future that will deliver the next generation of ultrafast, high-capacity broadband to customers across the 41 states we serve. To deliver ubiquitous connectivity to our customers, we will rely increasingly on next generation wireless technologies like 5G, and significantly improve and expand the reach of our wired broadband network.

Since 2014, Charter has invested more than $23 billion in technology and infrastructure that has enabled us to bring high-speed broadband to underserved and unserved communities, including those in rural areas, and to increase our broadband speeds at no additional cost to our customers. In 2017, we boosted our starting broadband speed from 60 Mbps to 100 Mbps in virtually every market we serve and to 200 Mbps in a growing number of markets. And we have begun rolling out Spectrum Internet Gig in markets across the country which delivers a 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) connection to customers’ homes enabling them to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT), stream video and enjoy enhanced gaming and other entertainment simultaneously on multiple devices.

Last year, Charter began efforts to provide broadband access to more than 2,500 unserved homes and businesses in Floresville, Texas, and to more than 29,000 underserved homes and businesses in the California communities of Adelanto, Gonzales, Prunedale, Farmersville, Lindsay and Boron. And since January 2016, we have built out our network to more than 42,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses in New York State – with a plan to reach 145,000 by May 2020.

Access to broadband makes a real difference in the lives of those in urban, suburban and rural communities alike, as this consumer who lives in New York State’s Rensselaer County explains:

There is an important and ongoing debate in Washington, D.C., state capitals and in cities and towns across the country about how we can ensure that all consumers, whether they live in the cities, suburbs or rural America, have sufficient access to broadband. Policymakers are rightfully focused on ushering in 5G, and Charter is actively developing and testing this next gen wireless connectivity in a growing number of markets including Orlando, Florida, Reno, Nevada, Clarksville, Tennessee, Columbus, Ohio, Bakersfield, California and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Policymakers also know that maintaining and expanding existing wireline infrastructure remains an important part of closing the digital divide. For example, current 5G technologies are not able to cover the long distances required to deliver broadband in many rural areas – particularly in places with a lot of trees and foliage. And “small cell” networks may not ever make sense in rural areas given the relatively low population density there. However, Charter believes fixed wireless access technologies at lower frequencies could be suitable for rural broadband, providing wireline-like broadband connectivity and speeds, and is conducting trials in the 3.5 GHz band.

Accordingly, with the FCC in the midst of proceedings to examine the steps it can take to facilitate the deployment of broadband, and Congress and the Administration working on ways to enhance America’s broadband infrastructure, it is important that the policies and regulations adopted don’t favor one technology over another.

Regulatory parity is also important to maintain and advance competition in the broadband marketplace. Policies or regulations that place more costs and burdens on one side or the other undermine competition, which ultimately harms consumers, innovation and investment.
Whether it’s testing 5G technologies, investing in broadband infrastructure or expanding the reach of our wired network, we are committed to doing more to deliver better and faster broadband to more communities – large and small, urban and suburban. Smart, technology neutral policies, coupled with appropriate streamlining measures, will advance these efforts and we look forward to working with policymakers to get it right.