Cable carrier to offer mobile service in Connecticut

By Alex Soule | Monday, November 06, 2017

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Altice USA is racing to become the first major U.S. cable carrier to offer mobile phone service, through a new agreement with Sprint, with Altice able to offer customers distinct functionality and features under its own brand.

Announcing the agreement Sunday, the companies did not immediately outline a timeline for Altice USA offering mobile service, which it would do under a "mobile virtual network operator" model used by companies like Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS to piggyback on the networks of major wireless carriers to offer their own mobile phone services.

Stamford-based Charter Communications has also explored an MVNO partnership with Verizon Communications, as has Comcast, with both companies offering cable service in locations of southwestern Connecticut. Last week, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said his company is already field testing a wireless service with its staff.

"We've made good headway," Rutledge said. "We're looking forward to entering the wireless business by the second quarter of next year."

Through the Optimum brand that it is currently being phased out in favor of its corporate moniker, Altice USA is the dominant cable carrier in southwestern Connecticut, with nearly 5 million customers nationally. The company also runs an extensive Wi-Fi wireless network in its territories, thanks to wireless routers it issues customers that send out tandem signals allowing for password-enabled access to the internet.

Last week, Altice USA announced plans for a new "Altice One" home hub that would provide customers with a single box combining the functions of traditional cable boxes, Internet modems and wireless routers; and allowing new features like access to apps and voice-based search capabilities.

In a Friday conference call, Altice executives gave no hint of the Sprint announcement in the offing, but talked at length the Altice One initiative. Altice USA reported a 3 percent increase in revenue during the third quarter to $2.3 billion, along with a $182 million net loss.

"We have begun customer trials which were delayed from the summer and ... we're now commercially rolling it out in certain areas in Long Island," said Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei. "Our product will be one of the most comprehensive solutions in the market with all of our key features that our competitors and peers offer and more, (to) include an improved WiFi experience."

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