Charter tells FCC it aims 'to be a key part' of the wireless market

Charter Communications said the FCC’s move to free up high-frequency spectrum will allow it “to be a key part” of the growth of wireless communications.

Charter has been vocal about its eagerness to enter the wireless market, but the company has been coy about specific plans. The company pledged to build a network of 300,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots under terms of its blockbuster acquisitions of fellow cable operators Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks earlier this year, but it has yet to activate the potential MVNO agreement it has with Verizon.

In a filing this week with the FCC, the company suggested high-frequency spectrum will play a role in its wireless strategy.

“As the company has stated, Charter sees wireless as a primary area for future communications growth – and plans to be a key part of that growth,” according to the filing. “Charter intends to leverage and expand its existing Wi-Fi service, work with MVNO partners, and, at the appropriate time, invest in its own licensed spectrum based wireless network. Charter’s commitment to providing fast broadband on user-friendly terms, its advanced network already deployed across much of the country, and its history of innovation will all contribute to Charter’s success in this area.”

The cable behemoth recently submitted an application to begin experimenting in new and proposed millimeter wave bands, and it urged the Commission to authorize unlicensed use in the 70/80 GHz bands. High-band spectrum can “help close the broadband gap” in rural areas, Charter said, enabling users in underserved communities to access wireless broadband.

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 in the coming months. Indeed, Comcast recently promoted Greg Butz, executive vice president of sales and marketing, to head up its new Comcast Mobile division.

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Unlike its rival Comcast, Charter opted not to participate in the incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum. Comcast put down a $1.8 billion deposit for the auction, according to recent reports, which could indicate it will bid more aggressively for spectrum than many had expected.