Charter Reports 21K Mobile Subscriber Lines, Mulling Plans for CBRS Network

Operator exploring dual-SIM tech that would let users simultaneously leverage Verizon MVNO and Charter CBRS networks
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Reporting subscriber numbers for its new mobile service for the first time, Charter Communications said it ended the third quarter with 21,000 Spectrum Mobile users.

Charter launched its mobile service in July, leveraging an MVNO agreement to use Verizon’s LTE network, its own network of WiFi hotspots, as well as a technology partnership with Comcast, which has a similar MVNO agreement with the No. 1 U.S. wireless operator.

Charter, however, pegs the official launch for Spectrum Mobile on Sept. 4—when it started promoting the service.

Related: Charter Launches Spectrum Mobile

Charter made its disclosure during its third-quarter earnings report, a day after Comcast revealed that its similarly priced and packaged Xfinity Mobile service had reached the one million lines served benchmark. Much of the pricing and strategy for Charter’s mobile service was borrowed from Xfinity Mobile, which launched in early 2017.

Related: Charter Stock Dips 9% as Dow Falls 400 Points

Charter revealed that it had spent about $94 million in the third quarter launching Spectrum Mobile, generating around $17 million in revenue for the service. The company defined the “break-even” point for the platform at around two million users.

Related: ARRIS IDs CBRS As An Opportunity 'Right Now'

Speaking to analysts Friday, Charter chair and CEO Tom Rutledge lamented the lack of “owner’s economics” offered by the Verizon MVNO agreement. With Charter currently expiring business opportunities in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum, Rutledge pondered the possibility of Spectrum Mobile users one day deploying a new dual SIM technologies that would let users simultaneously use Verizon and Charter networks.

Rutledge once again declared Charter interested in acquiring CBRS spectrum, but said he doesn’t believe that the FCC will get around to auctioning off that spectrum until at least 2020. 

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