Time Warner Cable reports lackluster demand for wireless

Time Warner Cable said it continues to see anemic interest in its wireless offerings. However, the company said it is preparing new bundles of wireline, Wi-Fi and wireless services, which the company said it will discuss in detail "in the coming months."

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said the company has been testing the waters in wireless via its WiMAX resale relationship with Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR). The addition of wireless allows Time Warner Cable to offer a quadruple play of TV, phone, home Internet and wireless.

"Our results in terms of actual [wireless] customers so far are not terribly exciting," Britt said during the company's quarterly conference call with investors, according to a transcript provided by Morningstar. "So, the evidence so far is that it's not a big market for the quadruple-play. ... We're not ready to say that this is a non-starter, maybe we're just not doing it right, but we're also not ready to make huge additional bets" in wireless.

Time Warner Cable has not disclosed the exact number of its WiMAX customers. However, Clearwire in the first quarter reported a total of 4.86 million wholesale subscribers, the vast majority of which are through Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Sprint, Best Buy and others resell Clearwire WiMAX services. Clearwire is scheduled to report second-quarter results Aug. 3.

During its second quarter, Time Warner Cable reported revenues of $4.9 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year-ago quarter.

During the company's conference call with analysts, a number of participants questioned TWC about its wireless plans. In response to a question about whether Time Warner Cable would invest more money into Clearwire, Britt said: "It's tricky for us to say anything about Clearwire. ... Suffice it to say, we are not obligated in any way to make any additional investment."

Another analyst questioned TWC about its spectrum holdings. TWC is one of the investors in SpectrumCo, which purchased $2.4 billion worth of AWS spectrum licenses during the FCC's 2006 spectrum auction.

"As I think you know there is a fairly a long time period for build out associated with that spectrum," Britt said. Most AWS licensees have at least another 10 years before they must meet the FCC's buildout requirements. "So, we're going to keep trying to find out if there is some formula for quadruple play that works. If we find the magic formula, we'll go from there. If we don't then we'll take some other action. But, again, nothing to announce at this point."

For more:
- see this TWC earnings release
- see this TWC conference call transcript

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