Goei: Altice USA Open to MVNO Deal

With its larger U.S. competitors joining forces to offer a wireless product, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said the U.S. arm of European telecom giant Altice N.V. would be open to paring up with a wireless carrier to offer service, most likely through a Mobile Virtual Network Operator agreement.

Both Comcast and Charter have MVNO deals with Verizon Communications, and earlier this month unveiled a partnership that would allow the two to pare costs and search for operational efficiencies. 

In a conference call with reporters, Goei said the Comcast-Charter deal was “smart,” adding that Altice USA also was taking its time to evaluate its wireless options.

“We’ve also been very public about saying that we are going to take our time to see what type of wireless offering we want to do and what type of form it will take,” Goei said. “We said on our last earnings call that we would have discussions around MVNO. Longer term, are we interested in more fixed infrastructure? I think it’s unclear. We are very much in line with our cable brethren here in terms of taking our time to evaluate what our options are on wireless.”

Goei declined to answer any questions about Altice USA’s pending initial public offering. Altice USA filed preliminary documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning the IPO in April, and Goei said the company expects to receive comments from the SEC later in May.

While revenue at the U.S. operations were up 3.2% (Optimum) and 5.3% (Suddenlink), Altice USA shed about 35,000 video customers in the period, a slight increase over the same time last year. At its Optimum systems – mainly in the New York metropolitan area – losses were about 15,000, in line with last year. At Suddenlink, video losses numbered about 20,000, slightly more than the year before.

“Clearly we’ve always believed that the weakness in video, specifically on the Suddenlink side of our business, was related to the quality of the product, which we’ve been working very hard on improving, the quality of the user experience, particularly. Many things are being put into place: One [is] additional content; Two [is] better user experience through a network DVR and with the launch of our new [communications hub], focusing on dramatically changing the user experience across the Altice USA footprint.”

That additional content won’t necessarily mean that the Viacom networks, which Suddenlink dropped in 2015, will be returning though. 

Goei wouldn’t give specifics, adding that Altice is looking at several programming options.  

“We are evaluating lots and lots of different options all the way from traditional linear to multiple forms of premiums to other types of millennial/OTT content,” Goei said. “I don’t think there is any particular names to be speaking about at this stage as we focus on reviewing the various opportunities we have.” Goei added that the home communications hub should be launched late in the second quarter or early in the third quarter.