Charter Communications is reportedly moving closer to launching Spectrum Mobile, which will use Charter's MVNO agreement with Verizon Wireless. According to BGR, the new service will launch June 30 and will offer unlimited data for $45 per month. Customers are also expected to have the option to pay only for the data they use, at $12 per gigabyte per month.
In addition to the Verizon network, Spectrum Mobile is expected to rely on Charter's own network of Wi-Fi access points, many of which are located inside homes and businesses. The cable provider's Wi-Fi network is heavily concentrated in some parts of the country and almost nonexistent in others.
The launch of a mobile network marketed by Charter Communications follows the success of a similar offering from Comcast, which also has an MVNO agreement with Verizon. The cable operator has won more than half a million subscribers to its Xfinity Mobile network in its first year of operation.
Like Comcast's Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile is expected to be available only to people who already have a customer relationship with the cable provider. Homes that use Spectrum for internet or cable would be eligible to add Spectrum Mobile. And of course people who want to switch to Spectrum for internet or cable in order to get Spectrum Mobile could do that.
Charter laid the groundwork for Spectrum Mobile last month when its new chief mobile officer, Danny Bowman, announced a partnership with Comcast for software and backend systems needed to support the two mobile networks. The collaboration was described as a partnership, but the companies noted that Comcast had already invested in the development of a working platform, which it will now share with Charter. In return, Charter is funding the partnership, although the companies said they both plan to invest going forward.
Spectrum Mobile is likely to steal customers from all four nationwide carriers, but for Verizon the blow will be cushioned by the payments it gets from Charter each time the cable company moves data across its network. Charter is reportedly paying Verizon $5 per gigabyte.
Right now it is not clear how the Justice Department will view MVNOs like Spectrum and Xfinity when evaluating competition in the U.S. wireless market. Competition is one of the key factors the Justice Department will consider as it studies the proposed merger of T-Mobile US and Sprint.