Charter Has Deployed 1 Million-Plus WorldBoxes

Charter Communications dropped a few technology tidbits into its Q3 call Thursday, touching on activities and plans involving video, broadband and wireless/mobile.

Charter, company president and CEO Tom Rutledge said, had deployed more than 1 million WorldBox devices across its national footprint by the end of Q3. Those hybrid IP/QAM devices use the company’s new cloud-based guide and a downloadable security platform that allows the company to deploy it in all systems – Charter legacy systems as well as the former Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network footprints.

Charter originally tapped vendors such as Cisco Systems (before it sold its CPE business to Technicolor) and Humax to make the WorldBox, but since tapped Arris to aid a WorldBox 2.0 project that aims to be more cost-efficient than its predecessor.

RELATED: Arris ‘Racing to the Finish Line’ on WorldBox 2.0

“Going forward, WorldBox will be the only set-top box we buy and will be the workhorse for our all-digital project,” Rutledge said, adding that Charter plans to deploy its new Spectrum Guide to new customers in former TWC and Bright House markets next year.

While Charter hopes the WorldBox will help to add attractiveness to its pay TV offering, Rutledge noted that one pressure on the video bundle (in addition to the big one, price) comes in part from password sharing and multi-stream OTT products that can exacerbate that issue.

On the broadband front, Rutledge said Charter will introduce gigabit speeds using DOCSIS 3.1 “in several key markets” over the next couple of months.

Charter plans to eventually buy D3.1 modems exclusively, as the products are expected to cost about the same as D3.0 devices (D3.1 modems are hybrids that support spectrum used for D3.0 and D3.1 services).

Currently Charter offers internet speeds of 100 Mbps in more than 75% of its footprint, up from 50% at the end of Q2, and expects to offer a minimum of 100 Mbps across nearly all its passings by year-end, Rutledge said.

Charter is also on track to launch a wireless service in 2018 using the MVNO agreement with Verizon that it inherited from the TWC deal. Rutledge offered more color, as Charter expects to make that operational by the second quarter of next year and that field trials are underway with Charter employees.

Rutledge also talked up Charter’s cooperative relationship with Comcast with respect to mobile and wireless, which includes WiFi network management and the MVNO deal that both companies have with Verizon.

RELATED: Comcast, Charter to Partner on Wireless

“We have an opportunity together to run the business more effectively from a back-office perspective,” he said, adding later that the use of WiFi in and out of the home will help Charter keep its MVNO-related costs in check.