Light Reading

Charter CEO Says Growth Is Path to Glory

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
12/3/2012
50%
50%

Using words like "neglected" and "abused" to describe Charter Communications Inc. during its recent, troubled past, new CEO and President Tom Rutledge believes the operator is well positioned for a growth spurt that will steal share away from the MSO's satellite and telco rivals.

Rutledge, who took the helm of Charter after serving as the COO of Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), told the UBS AG Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Monday that Charter's physical assets "are first class" and that the "fixes are relatively easy" at the MSO, which emerged from bankruptcy in November 2009. (See Charter Leaves Chapter 11 .)

Charter services are underpenetrated compared with those of its MSO peers, a situation that the new CEO intends to reverse and give the operator a sizable cash flow boost. "Our big opportunity is market share," Rutledge said.

Rutledge says there are more satellite TV customers than Charter TV subscribers in the MSO's footprint, so DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) are his primary targets on the video front. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS is present in just 4 percent of Charter's footprint. Rutledge shrugged off AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse as a platform that's "a little less capable" than FiOS's.

The Charter strategy is "about having a better product than all of our competitors," Rutledge said.

The fix is in -- or at least on the way
So what of those proposed fixes?

A big one is to turn off analog video services that look terrible on flat panel TVs and to use that reclaimed spectrum toward more HD and broadband capacity.

Part of that plan involved the use of inexpensive client set-top boxes equipped with downloadable security. Charter has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a waiver to use boxes with integrated security while it puts that plan into place. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is opposing the plan. (See CEA Tries to Kill Charter's Video Plan , Charter Sets All-Digital Path for Video and Charter Video Plan Good News for Cisco, Samsung.)

Rutledge also stressed that Charter should invest in cloud-based user interfaces that can run on thin-client boxes as well as tablets, phones and connected TVs. That, he said, will put the power of the navigation into the network, and shift more of the equipment costs to the consumer. That mimics the kind of strategy that Cablevision undertook on Rutledge's watch.

Another Cablevision-like strategy underway is the centralization of operations, a move that will help Charter "run the company as a single cable system." Charter has already built a super headend and is moving toward uniform pricing, packaging and product distribution. The operator will also look to expand its business services strategy, a category that's bringing in about $700 million now in a footprint that spends $9.5 billion per year. (See Cable's Cut of the Biz Services Pie to Eclipse $7B .)

Rutledge downplayed the role acquisitions would play in Charter's growth strategy and sidestepped questions about Charter's rumored interest in buying Cablevision's Bresnan cable properties in the Midwest. (See Cablevision Considers Bresnan Offers.)

"If something came along where we could be more efficient … then, yes, I'd be interested in it," Rutledge said. "I don't have one of those [opportunities] in front of me."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:16:36 PM
re: Charter CEO Says Growth Is Path to Glory


Also, Rutledge did note that Charter's plan to pursue a waiver and implement a downloadable security platform wasn't "predicated" on getting approval for said waiver.  It's a hedge, of course, since Charter can still try to go all digital with DTAs and the existing set-tops with CableCARDs.  But he acknowledged that the downloadable option would give Charter access to cheaper STBs to accomplish the all-digital transition. JB

Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.