Charter Looking to Follow Comcast’s Residential-Router-as-Hotspot Model

Charter Communications’ top wireless executive, Craig Cowden, said the cable operator is looking to follow Comcast’s model of dual-purposing residential customer modems as WiFi hotspots.

Charter Communications' Craig Cowden

Charter Communications' Craig Cowden

“We see a benefit of doing that,” Cowden said, speaking last week at FierceWireless’ Next Gen Wireless Networks Summit in Dallas.

Like Comcast does with Xfinity Mobile, Charter offloads expensive MVNO cellular traffic on the Verizon network by using its network of WiFi hotspots. But Comcast’s public hotspot reach is much bigger, with much of 19 million hotspots across its footprint coming from residential customer routers which offer dual-purpose public WiFi support.

“We already offload significant traffic onto WiFi,” Cowden said. “Comcast has 19 million hotspots that are called home-as-a-hotspot, using the existing router in the home.

He added, “We’re always looking at how we can optimize the cost structure of our products.”

Cowden also spoke about Charter’s plan to use Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum to create its own pockets of cellular access, from which it could offload MVNO traffic to customers who are equipped with dual-SIM phones.

Charter is currently testing that model in New York and Los Angeles.

“We have done a lot of testing with small cells using dual SIM,” Cowden said. “We tested CBRS in 2017 in Tampa and Charlotte. We had eight different vendors just to test how CBRS would work. At end of 2018 and through now, we’ve done the next phase of dual SIM testing in New York and Los Angeles, where we have prototype devices to test the seamless switching between small cells and the macro domain.”

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!