About Charter Communications Operating LLC

Faced with the choice of going big or remaining a lower-tier cable player, Charter Communications went big. It became the #2 cable TV company in the US (behind Comcast) with its 2016 acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks for a total of some $70 billion. The combined company serves about more than 26 million residential and commercial customers across the US. It offers a full range of services to residential subscribers including cable TV, high-speed internet, Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone, and entertainment packages. Its services for businesses include internet access, data networking, phone, and wireless backhaul. Charter chose Spectrum as the brand name for the combined cable, internet, voice, and business services.

Operations

Most of Charter Communications’ revenue comes from the residential side of its operations with the rest provided by business services and advertising.

Residential video services (about 40% of revenue) range from basic programming to premium channels as well as pay-per-view and video-on-demand. It also offers digital video recording and its Spectrum TV App provides subscribers access to TV service on mobile devices.

Residential internet services (about a third of revenue) provide tiers of service based on the speed of the internet connection (the highest is 300 megabits). The company offers download speeds between 60 and 100 Mbps.

Charter’s residential voice services (more than 5% of revenue) use VoIP technology to transmit digital voice signals over its network. Voice services include unlimited local and long distance calling to the US, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, and other features.

In its business segment, Charter offers broadband communications for businesses and carriers, including internet access, data networking, fiber connectivity to cellular towers and office buildings, video entertainment services and business telephone services.

The services for small and medium businesses (about 10% of revenue) are similar to those for residential customers with the addition of web hosting, e-mail, security, and multi-line telephone service.

For bigger businesses (about 5% of revenue), Charter offers fiber-delivered communications and managed IT solutions as well as high-capacity last-mile data connectivity services to wireless and wireline carriers, Internet Service Providers, and other competitive carriers wholesale. Managed IT offerings include Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Cloud Desktop as a Service, managed hosting, and messaging.

The company’s advertising sales division (about 5% of revenue), Spectrum Reach, offers local, regional and national businesses with the opportunity to advertise in individual and multiple markets on cable television networks. Charter also operates several regional sports and news networks.

Geographic Reach

Charter Communications does business in 40-some states, covering the US from Maine to Hawaii and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s five biggest regions are the West with more than 4 million customer relationships, the Northeast with more than 2.9 million, Central with about 2.8 million, the Carolinas with more than 2.6 million, and Texas with more than 2.5 million.

Sales and Marketing

Charter Communications emphasizes its bundled services (combinations of video, internet, and voice) in its advertising and marketing efforts under the Spectrum brand. It has instituted a common set of pricing and packing for all it markets. The company’s marketing organization manages the direct sales, online, outbound telemarketing, and store channels. It spends about $1 billion on marketing.

Financial Performance

Acquiring a couple of companies did wonders for Charter Communication’s top and bottom lines. With the operations of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks on board, the company’s 2016 revenue jumped nearly 200% to about $29 billion from just under $10 billion in 2015. The company also posted a big profit after losing money in 2015.

Charter saw increases in the number of residential internet and triple play customers and in commercial business customers. It also reported revenue from higher equipment charges and rate increases. The number of basic video customers declined.

Although Charter incurred higher expenses with the acquisitions, the sales gusher propelled the company to net income of about $3.8 billion, a turnaround from a loss of $271 million in 2015.

Cash flow from operations rose to about $8 billion in 2016 from about $2.4 billion in 2015, boosted by a substantial increase in earnings before interest, taxes, debt, and amortization.

Strategy

Charter Communications reached at least one goal with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Communications: It got a lot bigger. It covers more ground and has more customers who bring in more revenue. That helps Charter battle a growing list of telecom competitors that includes other cable companies like Comcast, Altice USA, and Cox Communications, satellite TV providers such as DishTV and DirecTV (owned by AT&T) and streaming service such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The company’s size should help it win better deals with content providers when carrier contracts are renegotiated.

Since the deal concluded in 2016, Charter has worked to integrate Time Warner and Bright House into its operations. The company branded the combined cable operations under the name Spectrum and began the several year process of consolidating business practices and systems and IT systems.

The company moved quickly to roll out standard products, pricing, and packaging across all regions, a process completed in 2017. Common packaging of service bundles reduces the number of low-value products. Charter continued to be beset into 2017 by high churn involving low-value Time Warner products that were offered at discounts to new and existing customers. Charter said it would not offer the same discounts to existing customers as it might to attract new customers.

Charter also emphasizes customer experience as part of its strategy. The company handles much of its customer service and field operations with its own workforce, which it says results in higher quality service transactions. Charter is installing its model of virtualized call centers that allow calls to be routed to agents who can address specific problems in the Time Warner and Bright House centers. Further, the company built a call center in McAllen, Texas to serve Spanish-speaking customers.

Looking to the future, Charter is researching and testing technology and equipment for 5G networks, which are to offer more capacity and higher speeds than current 3G and 4G networks. Mobile carriers are also working on 5G for mobile applications while Charter is looking at applications such as virtual and augmented reality for a dwelling or office. The company’s 5G services would work with its fiber and Wi-Fi networks, which saves capital expenditures in building new network capacity beyond its planned efforts.

Charter has partnered with Verizon to offer its customers wireless phone service in 2018 to help compete against companies like AT&T and its DishTV offerings. In mid-2017 Charter and Comcast discussed a similar arrangement with Sprint.

What Charter doesn’t have is content that could drive subscribers to use more of its services. Many customers have cut higher value cable video services while keeping the internet service and turned to over-the-top entertainment providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Other providers have bought content providers or created their own content.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks for about $70 billion made the company a credible competitor to industry leader Comcast. Charter swept into buy Time Warner after Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner was scuttled by regulatory concerns. Time Warner and Bright House brought new geographies to Charter's operation, including some in major cities.

In 2015 ARRIS Group Inc. and Charter acquired ActiveVideo for approximately $135 million. ARRIS owns 65% of the joint venture company formed by ARRIS and Charter for the acquisition. ActiveVideo was the developer of CloudTV, a cloud-based software platform enabling service providers, content aggregators, and consumer electronics manufacturers to rapidly deploy new services by virtualizing consumer premises equipment functions in the cloud.

Company Background

Driven by dreams of creating a "wired world," chairman Paul Allen (a co-founder of Microsoft) reportedly poured more than $12 billion into Charter since 1998, and the billionaire saw most of that investment evaporate. After expanding through the purchase of a slew of small-town cable assets that needed extensive infrastructure upgrades, Charter experienced ongoing subscriber losses, financial losses, and a debt load in excess of $20 billion. Faced with legal opposition from some of its lenders, the company's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization plan eliminated about $8 billion of debt, reduced annual interest expenses by about $830 million, and left Allen controlling about one-third of the company (a stake that has since fallen to less than 10%).

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Company News and Press Releases

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Charter Communications Operating LLC

12405 Powerscourt Dr
Saint Louis, MO 63131-3673
Phone: 1 (314) 965-0555

Stats

  • Employer Type: Public
  • Manager: Bob Fahner
  • Mbr-ceo: Michael J Lovett
  • Director Treas Operations: Michael Rose
  • Employees: 1,800

Major Office Locations

  • Saint Louis, MO

Other Locations

  • Albertville, AL
  • Montgomery, AL
  • Piedmont, AL
  • Troy, AL
  • Alhambra, CA
  • Chico, CA
  • Crescent City, CA
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Redding, CA
  • San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Victorville, CA
  • Watsonville, CA
  • Burlington, CO
  • Centennial, CO
  • Denver, CO
  • Greenwood Village, CO
  • Newtown, CT
  • North Windham, CT
  • Winsted, CT
  • Alpharetta, GA
  • Athens, GA
  • Columbus, GA
  • Dalton, GA
  • Duluth, GA
  • Fort Benning, GA
  • Grovetown, GA
  • Mcdonough, GA
  • Smyrna, GA
  • Belleville, IL
  • Centralia, IL
  • Maryville, IL
  • Taylorville, IL
  • Fort Riley, KS
  • Cumberland, KY
  • Hopkinsville, KY
  • Louisville, KY
  • Murray, KY
  • Hammond, LA
  • Marksville, LA
  • Thibodaux, LA
  • Westborough, MA
  • Worcester, MA
  • Bay City, MI
  • Coldwater, MI
  • Davison, MI
  • Grand Haven, MI
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Kalamazoo, MI
  • Owosso, MI
  • Mankato, MN
  • Rochester, MN
  • Arnold, MO
  • Chesterfield, MO
  • Columbia, MO
  • Florissant, MO
  • Osage Beach, MO
  • Saint Peters, MO
  • Sedalia, MO
  • Brookhaven, MS
  • Missoula, MT
  • Asheville, NC
  • Boone, NC
  • Hickory, NC
  • Holly Ridge, NC
  • Lenoir, NC
  • Lincolnton, NC
  • Roanoke Rapids, NC
  • Tarawa Terrace, NC
  • Waynesville, NC
  • Beatrice, NE
  • Hastings, NE
  • Kearney, NE
  • North Platte, NE
  • Scottsbluff, NE
  • Carson City, NV
  • Fallon, NV
  • Reno, NV
  • New York, NY
  • Burns, OR
  • Coos Bay, OR
  • Cottage Grove, OR
  • Pendleton, OR
  • Bradford, PA
  • Warren, RI
  • Greenville, SC
  • Laurens, SC
  • Union, SC
  • West Columbia, SC
  • Cleveland, TN
  • Columbia, TN
  • Cookeville, TN
  • Jasper, TN
  • Kingsport, TN
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Lebanon, TN
  • Maryville, TN
  • Mc Kenzie, TN
  • Morristown, TN
  • Murfreesboro, TN
  • Sevierville, TN
  • Cleburne, TX
  • Denton, TX
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • La Grange, TX
  • Rockwall, TX
  • Stamford, TX
  • Waxahachie, TX
  • Weatherford, TX
  • Colonial Beach, VA
  • Wytheville, VA
  • Ellensburg, WA
  • Vancouver, WA
  • Wenatchee, WA
  • Yakima, WA
  • Altoona, WI
  • Ashland, WI
  • Clintonville, WI
  • Fond Du Lac, WI
  • Juneau, WI
  • Madison, WI
  • Onalaska, WI
  • Rice Lake, WI
  • Sheboygan, WI
  • Wausau, WI
  • West Salem, WI
  • Beckley, WV
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