Don't Laugh, Charter Is Testing '6G' Wireless

As if there wasn't already enough hype around 5G, Charter has gone ahead and started flogging 6G, a term it's using to define a converged communications infrastructure of wired and wireless technologies.

On the latest quarterly earnings call Friday morning, CEO Tom Rutledge made specific reference to Charter Communications Inc. 's work in the wireless space, addressing not only the company's upcoming mobile service, which is based on an MVNO agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), but also 5G trials and new research into what he likes to call "6G." (See also If Anyone Mentions 6G to Me at MWC….)

Important note: Rutledge's definition of 6G is different from UK researchers in Bristol who are developing Gallium Nitride (GaN)-on-Diamond microwave technology as a prelude to 6G services. (See University Gets Grant for 5G, 6G R&D.)

"Our 5G wireless tests are going well," says Rutledge, "as are our 6G tests, which is our pre-spec definition of the integration of small cell architecture using unlicensed and licensed spectrum working together interchangeably with our advanced DOCSIS roadmap to create high-capacity, low-latency product offerings. We expect that over time our existing infrastructure will put us in a unique position to economically deploy new powerful products that benefit from small cell connectivity."

Rutledge's definition of 6G is pretty specific to Charter's use case, or at least to a cable network architecture. But it does follow on from other discussions about combining small cell radios with DOCSIS networks and leveraging the 3.5GHz band (Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS) to support new wireless services. (See Charter Plans In-Home Small Cell Gateway and Cisco: Cable Nets Can Backhaul Small Cells.)

The CEO's latest commentary is also in line with the "inside out" strategy being adopted by large cable operators as the industry looks to extend its connectivity presence from inside the home to outside and on the go. (See Ericsson Is Building a DOCSIS Small Cell.)

Charter's wireless strategy stems from its strength in the home.
Charter's wireless strategy stems from its strength in the home.

In the near term, Rutledge says the company is still on track to launch its first mobile service in the middle of this year. Tempering expectations for a major new competitive presence in the mobile space, however, the CEO also emphasized that the goal of the MVNO service will be to "create and retain more cable customers."

There is no word yet on how Charter will price its new mobile service. But, in a possible hint of his company's pricing strategy, Rutledge complimented Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) on its pricing model and highlighted his company's plans to focus on service bundling and delivering a good value on high-quality products.

Overall, Charter's fourth-quarter revenues grew 3.2% year over year to $10.6 billion. Rises in residential and Internet video revenue contributed to that gain (with the company even adding 2,000 video subs from the previous quarter), as did increasing commercial services revenue. Net income rose to $9.6 billion in the quarter, and full-year adjusted EBITDA totaled $15.3 billion, an increase of 5.8% year over year on a pro forma basis. (See Charter Posts Q4 Results.)

More coverage on Charter's latest quarterly earnings to come.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

Phil_Britt 2/19/2018 | 2:05:01 PM
Re: Laughing Not Laughing As soon as 5G becomes a reality, 6G will naturally follow. And not long after serious 6G discussions start, there will be talk about 7G. But not sure how much more any of the future Gs will be able to provide.
kq4ym 2/16/2018 | 10:41:54 AM
Re: Laughing Not Laughing It does seem strange to see news of 6G but who knows if the idea gains legs and brings the Charter name out there for some PR. Getting to "high-capacity, low-latency product offerings," of course is nothing new and the idea of combining the licensed and unlicensed spectrum is probably one of the ways to  move forward in that plan.
Joe Stanganelli 2/3/2018 | 3:52:30 PM
Re: 6Gsus 6Gsusadd9?

In any case, regarding the headline: Too late. I already did. But, then, it's not really surprising. Carriers were talking about 5G back in the pre-4G days. It's always the NEXT big thing that's the biggest big [non-]thing.
Clifton K Morris 2/2/2018 | 10:11:08 PM
Re: Laughing Not Laughing Ideally 6G would be a technical standard with definitions related to capabilities and bandwidth. 6G (at least for now) is Spectrum's way of showcasing what the underlying Docsis 3.1 technology can do. And, if anything at all, CableLabs isn't doing justice calling it D3.1. It's such a giant leap in capability to the enduser. Calling this 6G is kind of like what Sprint did when it needed to find a way advertise the value-add of adding WAP and circuit-switched wireless web services and applications in the early 2000s.. Sprint created 3G as a pure "marketing definition". However, true 3G didn't get ratified until engineers defined that the core underlying technology needed to be packet-based. Basically Sprint lied to everyone's faces. When 3G finally was launched by GSM providers (VoiceStream and Cingular), Sprint instructed its sales teams to lie again and more-or-less say "You don't want Cingular 3G..! We've been [marketing a pre-]3G variant over 4 years now, and now we have 4G and its called WiMAX, which solves child hunger, cures cancer and the two year contract only sets you back as much as running a wire for DSL service". Sprint had to over promise the capability because no one used 3G. It was too difficult to login to a WAP website to send a text message over WAP wireless web.

Still, I see new non-walled garden options a router like this offers like a breath of fresh air. . In a post-Apple ecosystem world, Spectrum is giving customer choice back to its customers.

Apple sucks and it's expensive. For years, rumor blogs and people in the press would write from a 'customer' perspective that breathlessly say the main option is a new Apple product. However, I use the term 'customer' loosely--often these people are actually shareholders peddling Apple products to see an increase in Apple Valuation before they are customers themselves.

Spectrum appears to be bucking this tend. and indeed, there are a lot of great technology options available; including Zigbee, IEEE, and ISO-backed standards that perform just as well or better than Apple's Walled Garden approach for HomeKit (home automation or lighting). But, what happens if manufacturers decide to not pay Apple's license fees and Apple cancels HomeKit product line like Apple did with its product line of corporate server hardware..? Customers are locked in the ecosystem with no direct upgrade path.

As you pointed out-- Meltdown, Spectre vulnerabilities introduced very real issues, and as you pointed out, they were cross-platform, affecting Intel, AMD, ARM and even ARM variants Apple designed to be proprietary to themselves in-house.

So, the first software patches for these vulnerabilities were released for Linux platforms, which should be a very good example of the inherent value of selecting open-source platforms for critical applications over closed source and proprietary software. OpenSource Generally gets the fixes first.

Personally, I don't have a level of trust in a platform which allows a software of any type to provide physical access to personal property. That's not to say trust can't be built, but there are very real 'workarounds' in law that allow 'researchers' and 'educational' reasons to allow legal hacking. But with 'breaking and entering', there's over 200 years of legal precedent established and related to the acts such as 'lock picking' and gaining unauthorized physical access to physical property. In many US states, it's still legal to 'make my day' if access is not permitted. These types of laws don't fully or yet exist for hacking a door lock.

Added to this complexity, legal precedent has already been made that if a door or deadbolt is unlocked, law enforcement may enter if they have 'probable cause'. 'Obstruction of Justice' laws also exist, and Overall, there are multiple a legal thickets where multiple legal precedents have already been established for anything physical. Definitions and penalties for Theft, Grand Theft, and even 'theft of service' already exist today. And that's why I'll stick to a set of physical metal keys for anything related to access authorization to physical property; digital property is something completely else-- a backup can restore data. If a bored teenager hacks into my home lighting, To make lights flash at 2am, I'll unplug the Internet.

Still, Charter is trying to point out that it has a new product line (and service offering) and that's great. But with blowhards like John Legere and Apple ecosystems, I suppose they have to call it 6G. It's like nothing else available in the marketplace.
bosco_pcs 2/2/2018 | 3:29:07 PM
Laughing Not Laughing No doubt it is vaporwave for now. However, it illustrates one point. Unless the government's idea of nationalizing 5G is beneficial to the industry, the industry could certainly circumvent it... You look at the chip industry's recent problems with Meltdown & Spectre, people point a finger at Intel but in fact pretty much all are affected, including AMD and ARMS. Ironically, no word about IBM Power but who is using Power besides IBM anyway?

So who is really the recipient of this 6G message?
mendyk 2/2/2018 | 2:49:02 PM
6Gsus Please make it stop.
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