Charter’s CEO: We haven’t activated MVNO deal with Verizon… yet

Charter Communications’ top executive said the cable company has not yet activated the company’s potential MVNO agreement with Verizon.

Those comments, made by Charter CEO Tom Rutledge today during the company’s quarterly conference call with investors, are notable considering he hinted in May that Charter may well launch an MVNO with Verizon thanks to Charter’s recent acquisition of Time Warner Cable, which itself owned an option to activate an MVNO deal with Verizon.

During his comments today, Rutledge offered no other insight into Charter’s potential MVNO plans, noting only that he assumed that Charter’s MVNO option with Verizon is similar to Comcast’s recently activated MVNO agreement with Verizon.

Charter earlier this year closed its purchases of TWC and Bright House Networks, making the company the nation’s second-largest cable operator.

In his comments in May, Rutledge didn't confirm Charter's specific plans around wireless but did say his company is already in a good position for offering wireless service. "In my view, we're already a wireless company," he said. "So there's something wrong with the picture that we're not billing them for it."

He added that Charter might build a small cell service using less expensive licensed spectrum, saying that every home and business essentially already has a small cell Wi-Fi network service. "The bulk of the throughput will be in homes and businesses on the small cell universes and the cellular umbrella will be for mobility," Rutledge in May.

As part of its TWC and Bright House purchases, Charter has already pledged to build out 300,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Verizon in 2011 purchased AWS-1 spectrum from Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cox and TWC (a group dubbed SpectrumCo) and in return gave those companies access to its wireless network for use in a potential MVNO offering. Comcast late last year said it activated its MVNO agreement with Verizon, and is expected to begin testing some kind of wireless service later this year. Indeed, Comcast last month promoted Greg Butz, executive vice president of sales and marketing, to head up its new Comcast Mobile division.

Interestingly, Cox spokesman Todd Smith confirmed that the cable company also did have the option to implement an MVNO agreement with Verizon as part of its participation in SpectrumCo, but decided not to act on that option. He said the option has now expired.

Charter said video subscribers were down 152,000 in the second quarter, an improvement over the 170,000 lost in the second quarter of 2015. Click here for that story.

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