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Charter's 'Inside-Out' Wireless Plan Starts to Take Shape

Jeff Baumgartner

In an apparent push forward with the inside part of its "inside-out" approach to mobile and wireless services, Charter Communications has introduced a router equipped with 802.11ax WiFi and announced plans for an in-home small cell device that will also sport an LTE antenna and an array of Internet of Things radios. (See Charter Rolls Out 802.11ax Router .)

Billing it as the first router from a US-based broadband provider to support 802.11ax technology, which bakes in OFDMA capabilities from the cellular world, Charter Communications Inc. said the initial router is powerful enough to support the MSO's initial whole-home WiFi strategy. (See Why ISPs Are High on Whole-Home WiFi.)

Charter's mum on whether the router will also be paired with WiFi extenders that can reach into dead spots in customer homes, and declined to identify the device supplier and whose WiFi chipset will grace it. However, the cableco believes that support for 802.11ax will enable it to boost in-home WiFi speeds and jack up the number of devices that can be connected to those networks, while also extending the battery life of devices hanging off the customer's home WiFi network.

As per this brief promo about the router, Charter notes that it will allow users to connect up to 64 devices simultaneously:

Charter also shed some light on a "converged wireless router" platform, slated to be launched in 2019, that will support both licensed and unlicensed spectrum and include an LTE antenna and IoT radios. Charter's plans for this started to surface last year. (See Charter Plans In-Home Small Cell Gateway.)

Charter didn't say as much, but that small cell device is likely to play a major role in the MSO's so-called "inside-out" strategy. This approach cals for the cableco to emphasize in-home mobile/wireless networks that connect to its cable infrastructure and complement set-up on the macro level with an MVNO agreement with Verizon Wireless, which is already being used to underpin Charter's newly launched Spectrum Mobile service. (See Don't Laugh, Charter Is Testing '6G' Wireless and Charter Unleashes Spectrum Mobile… Without the iPhone .)

Charter declined to say whether the converged wireless router will work in the emerging Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band, a shared swatch of spectrum that will support both licensed and licensed spectrum. But Charter's been conducting CBRS tests, and it's no secret that cable operators are eager to use the CBRS band to keep their MVNO costs in check.

Charter also announced that it is working to simplify the setup and configuration of residential wireless, as its routers are set to receive a WiFi Radio Resource Management capability in "early 2019" that "will automatically and proactively optimize the in-home Wi-Fi environment using a built-in, cloud-based data analytics engine."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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