Charter Starts Up ‘Spectrum’ Rollouts

Charter Communications has introduced its new “Spectrum” cable service brand in two markets — Fort Worth, Texas, and Greenville, S.C. — following recent all-digital upgrades in those locations.

Taking a page from Comcast’s Xfinity playbook, Charter is launching the brand in tandem with new services that are linked to this recently freed-up spectrum. In the early going, the Spectrum service will double Charter’s maximum baseline Internet download speeds — from 30 Megabits per second to 60 Mbps — at no additional cost, while also expanding its HD lineup to more than 200 channels and tying in advanced voice service that includes unlimited nationwide calling.

In addition to the faster speeds, the MSO’s Spectrum-related triple-play packages include “Select” (more than 125 channels and free HD); “Silver” (50-plus additional channels, including premium networks); and “Gold” (all channels with premium networks). Charter is pairing each package with a bigger video-on-demand library — about 12,000 “choices,” including 2,500 in HD as well as 3D movies.

Charter announced last November that it would use the Spectrum brand to herald the introduction of the new suite of services.

Charter declined to say where Spectrum would be unleashed next, but a spokesman said the current plan is to introduce the brand as upgrades are completed, reiterating that Charter expects to complete its all-digital shift in all markets by the end of the year.

Upgrade efforts are already underway in areas such as Southern California, and parts of Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Massachusetts. As of the end of 2013, Charter had completed all-digital upgrades in 15% of its footprint.

To fuel that effort, Charter is using dual-security boxes that support an integrated version of its legacy conditional-access system alongside a new downloadable encryption platform. The new downloadable system is expected to support a new IP-capable “World Box” set-top under development that will take full advantage of Charter’s cloud-centric apps platform. Charter is also working with ActiveVideo Networks on a new cloud-based “Sky” guide that will run on the new boxes as well as on legacy, non-IP set-tops.

By Any Other Name

Notable corporate rebrands of cable services include:

Optimum: Cablevision Systems rolled its new brand out in stages, first for Internet service (1999), then digital video (iO: Interactive Optimum) and IP-based phone service.

Xfinity: Comcast introduced its new brand for TV, Internet and voice services in early 2010, with CEO Brian Roberts saying the aim was to connote “our robust technology platform, expanded services we are offering today and the future services we are planning to deliver.”

Time Warner Cable (TBA): The MSO’s pending merger with Comcast could derail Time Warner Cable’s previously announced plan to rebrand its service (name to be decided) after TWC Maxx network upgrades are completed.