As Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T openly prepare to challenge the broadband cable industry with next-generation 5G wireless alternatives, number two U.S. cable operator Charter is preparing two responses: blazingly faster wired broadband, and the option to offer 5G wireless services of its own. The plans were shared by Charter CEO Tom Rutledge on CNBC after his appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Brokers Conference this week.
Rutledge’s comments expand upon an earlier statement from Charter CFO Chris Winfrey, who said last week that he doesn’t “see anything about 5G that ever makes it comparable to… any capability we have through fixed line service.” In other words, Winfrey expected that Charter’s wired cable service would ultimately outperform 5G wireless for technical reasons.
Specifically, Rutledge expects that the company will roll out 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) symmetrical wired internet service to confront what otherwise might be an existential challenge from 5G wireless. That would deliver 10 times the initially promised speed of 5G wireless services — and 33 times the “typical” speed Verizon is now telling its first 5G customers to expect.
But Rutledge envisioned the wide deployment of 10Gbps wired service being 10 years out. By 2028, 5G will certainly be faster than it is in 2018. Early 5G chips are already promising up to 6Gbps speeds if the network supports them. Beyond the issue of whether future consumers will even want wired internet access, there are still questions as to who will actually pay a premium for even higher speeds. Even Verizon’s promised…