Financials: WiFi Moves Up Cable's Priority List

Cable's financials this go-'round are heavy on news of WiFi and wireless, given Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) recent announcements about Xfinity Mobile. To refresh: the new service will be available to Comcast's ...

Bullish outlooks from Charter, Rogers
Bullish outlooks from Charter, Rogers

Cable's financials this go-'round are heavy on news of WiFi and wireless, given Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) recent announcements about Xfinity Mobile. To refresh: the new service will be available to Comcast's broadband customers. Pricing will depend on the level of bundled services plan the customer has. The service will use Comcast's WiFi network in combination with mobile coverage from Verizon Wireless. Customers will automatically be logged into the WiFi service without having to continually log in.

During the company's first quarter conference call, CEO Brian Roberts noted that Comcast believes mobile in the bundles will help improve retention. "We are taking a disciplined approach to the wireless business, leveraging our existing customer relationships and infrastructure along with our access to Verizon's industry-leading wireless network."

Roberts also called out a new service that will launch next month, xFi. This cloud-based smart home networking solution will be a "game changer" for WiFi in that it will allow customers to personalize, manage and control their home networks.

Incidentally, on the video subscriber front, Comcast reported adding 42,000 video customers during the quarter.

Charter Communications' (NASDAQ:CHTR) big news continued to be the integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House. Thomas Rutledge, CEO, said that operating and strategic plans are on track. Pricing and packaging have been launched everywhere but Hawaii, which is expected to come shortly. Approximately 17% of Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers have converted to new pricing and packaging.

During the second quarter, Charter will restart its all-digital project in the remaining 40% of Time Warner Cable and 60% of Bright House markets that remain to be converted.

On the wireless front, Charter had news as well. The company has plans underway to launch its own wireless service in 2018 under an MVNO agreement with Verizon. Charter also is testing network capacities with 5G-like services in a number of Spectrum bands and locations.

"We intend to use these field trials to provide us with better insight into the capabilities of our wireline network when using high-frequency licensed and unlicensed spectrum and how our various wireless network building blocks can be used in conjunction with one another to offer services that were developed over time," Rutledge said.

Cable One (NYSE:CABO) CEO Julia Laulis reported that her company will be launching WiFi ONE, an advanced WiFi solution that will enhance signal strength and help eliminate dead zones and buffering. Technicians will use signal mapping to find the optimum location for the WiFi gateway in the home and determine the best hardware configuration based on number of wireless devices and home structure.

Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.A) in Canada said cable PSU net additions were positive for the third consecutive quarter, driven by Internet net additions of 30,000. Rogers CFO Tony Staffieri said the prospects for cable "only get more compelling" with the launch of X1 IPTV and a digital home solution, expected early next year.

Staffieri also said that Rogers expects X1 to bring an elegant customer experience, and to bring about a decline in capex intensity post-launch. X1 integration is underway, and Rogers is benefitting from the experience of Comcast.

"The ecosystem around X1 is relatively small, so we only need to deal with Comcast and a limited number of other services providers," Staffieri said.

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