As his cable system prepares to absorb more than 13 million video subscribers from Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks, in millions more high-speed Internet users, Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) President and CEO Tom Rutledge recently laid out some of the details of how the technology integration will work.
Speaking at an "investor day" event last week for Liberty Media, Charter's biggest shareholder, Rutledge said Charter will continue to rely on its cloud-based strategy that relies on two-way communications with older set-tops. This will differ radically from services like TWC Maxx, which call for the installation of advanced Arris-made DVR set-tops into customer homes.
"Historically, the chips and processing power and storage of older set-tops was the lowest common denominator in which you could roll out new products across your footprint," Rutledge said.
The takeaway: Charter will be able to assimilate the new additions to its footprint at the server level and will not be required to initiate a significant truck-roll campaign.
Charter is still in the process of integrating its cloud-based Spectrum Guide video interface across its footprint. This system uses two-way communications between the user's set-top and the server, rendering the user interface in the cloud and sending it back as an MPEG video signal. Charter has been able to deploy Spectrum Guide through development of network architecture and has not had to install CPE.
Any new set-tops provided to customer homes will be designed under Charter's vendor-agnostic "World Box" platform, which enables the MSO to integrate downloadable security.
"We can provision the box from any vendor anywhere, and we can put the security onto it ourselves," he added. "One of the biggest costs in this business is set-tops, and the ability to go to downloadable security results in significant savings."
Rutledge did reiterate Charter's pledge to add technician talent.
"We're probably going to hire around 20,000 people to bring people back from overseas and use our own technicians to do the work," he said.
Rutledge used his appearance at the investor meeting to hammer home Charter's sales pitch for the mergers, which will give the company a national footprint of 48 million passings and 24 million customer relationships spanning nine of the top 25 designated marketing areas (DMAs).
If the transactions are approved by federal regulators, Charter will become the nation's third largest video services supplier with 17.2 million subscribers, trailing only AT&T (26.2 million after its acquisition of DirecTV) and Comcast (22.3 million).
With 20.1 million high-speed Internet users, the new Charter will trail only Comcast (22.5 million) as the leading wireline Internet supplier.
- visit this Charter investor relations site
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