Charter’s MVNO gets the iPhone, and ‘execution appears to be solid’

Charter's Spectrum Mobile is now selling iPhones alongside Android phones. (Spectrum Mobile)

Charter’s MVNO, Spectrum Mobile, is now selling the Apple iPhone. This development, coupled with the company’s recent announcement that it has fully deployed the offering throughout its cable footprint, indicates the cable company’s wireless business is now moving full steam ahead.

Charter launched its Spectrum Mobile service—which runs on Verizon’s LTE network—at the end of June. However, the service only carried Android phones from the likes of Samsung and LG. The absence of the iPhone from Spectrum Mobile’s handset lineup stood out as a glaring hole in its offering considering, according to eMarketer, Apple's share of smartphone users in the U.S. sits at around 45.1% share. However, eMarketer said it expects Android to dominate smartphone usage through 2020.

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Now, however, Charter is selling the iPhone alongside Android phones, as initially noted by Wave7 Research. That’s particularly important considering Apple is widely expected to announce new iPhones at a media event this week that could spark increased interest in the device ahead of the fall shopping season.

The addition of the iPhone to Charter’s lineup comes just days after the company announced it is offering mobile services now across its footprint. Like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile MVNO, Spectrum Mobile is only available to Charter customers who also purchase the company’s wired internet service.

Charter also said it would offer bring-your-own-device services later this year.

And Charter’s mobile efforts appear to be gaining steam, at least according to the analysts at Macquarie Research. “Though early, execution appears to be solid,” the Wall Street analyst firm wrote in a note to investors following a recent visit to a Spectrum Mobile store. “Sales reps discussed the mechanics of the MVNO, emphasizing the reliability of Verizon’s network. They also highlighted the importance of WiFi, particularly for users on the ‘by-the-gig’ plan. We were reminded multiple times of Charter’s nationwide WiFi hotspots, which now number 25m+. This is consistent with management commentary that ~200m connected devices and ~80% of wireless data traffic pass through its WiFi radios.”

Importantly, the firm added that it now expects Charter’s Spectrum Mobile to gain 650,000 new subscribers within its first year of service. The firm also predicted Charter would rack up expenses related to its mobile business of $191 million this year and $362 million next year—though the firm noted that will be less than what it expects Comcast to spend on its own Xfinity Mobile MVNO.