As it looks to deploy its cloud-based Spectrum Guide across the newly acquired footprints of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, Charter Communications said it plans to push customer self-installation.
“In 2017, the all-digital project at Time Warner Cable and Bright House markets will use the Charter all-digital strategy, which uses fully functioning two-way set-top boxes with video on demand and advanced guide functionality on every TV outlet,” said Charter President and CEO Tom Rutledge to investors during the MSO’s second-quarter earnings call this week. “We expect the project to be completed by 2018. We will also extend our practice of performing electronic connections instead of physical truck rolls as we go all-digital, allowing us to fully scale our self-installation and self-service practices.”
Like Comcast, Charter already offers a self-installation option to customers across its legacy footprint. It hasn’t said at this point how many new subscribers are choosing the self-install option.
Rutledge and his team were making their first earnings call since Charter closed its purchases of TWC and Bright House. The chief executive also addressed the company’s “in-sourcing” campaign, pulling service operations back from domestic and overseas vendors.
“The process of in-sourcing will take several years, and will require that we hire 20,000 people, train them and equip them with trucks, tools and test equipment and house them in new and expanded facilities,” Rutledge said. “That process has already started as we are building Charter's first Spanish language call center in McAllen, Texas with approximately 600 seats.
Charter reported improving customer metrics across the three newly combined companies. Notable, however, was the loss of 73,000 Bright House video customers in the second quarter – a high number for a Florida-situated operation that serves less than 2 million customers.
Asked by analysts if he was surprised that there is so much churn in the Bright House footprint, Rutledge said he was aware of the migratory nature of Florida customers – “snowbirds” he called them – before Charter paid $10.4 billion for the privately held company.
“I wouldn't say that I'm surprised by anything,” he said. “We have a pretty good visibility into these businesses … I knew about seasonality in Florida, having managed those assets in the past, with snowbirds and so forth. And I would say that the pricing and packaging and the variability of offers is the most interesting opportunity to fix quickly. It creates a lot of activity and confusion in the marketplace both for the consumer and for the employees of the company.”
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