Jeff Kagan: Charter Spectrum Finally Getting Better

Jeff Kagan  |

Charter Communications  (CHTR) has been improving their service, quality, reliability and Internet speeds. They have also recently entered the wireless with Spectrum Mobile. The challenge is getting their entire customer base up to speed, so they are satisfied. That’s the tough part. Let me tell you this story to illustrate my point.

We live in the Atlanta area and also have a place at the beach. Atlanta is served by Comcast Xfinity. Charter Spectrum is at the beach. This gives me a unique ability to compare the strengths and weaknesses of both services from a user perspective as well as an analyst point of view.

Evaluating Charter Spectrum from Analyst and User Perspective

My story sounds the same as countless other users. When Charter Spectrum focuses on fixing a customer’s problem, they do a great job. It’s just that it’s a slow process and there are so many more customers to go.

This started with Time Warner Cable and moving from analog to digital TV. They tried to upgrade from analog to digital several years ago, but it was a disaster at my place. I visited the retail store and called for customer service, countless times, but no one could or would help.

Bottom line, we went back to analog and once again, and we were happy for a few more years.

Then Charter Spectrum acquired Time Warner Cable. At that point, things were still going well. That’s until Spectrum decided to suddenly pull the plug on the analog network several months ago.

Forcing Users to Go Digital Pay Tv When Home Wiring Can’t Handle It

They forced all users to go digital. I thought it had been several years, so the service should be good by now. I crossed my fingers. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I wrote about this problem in my column. Some of the problems were, when turning on the TV and trying to use digital pay television, it took an hour to get a picture. That’s right. An hour! The Internet was also painfully slow.

This was unacceptable. I was a very unhappy customer and that lasted quite a long time. Once again, I went to the retail store and called their customer service, but it got me nowhere.

Pete Smith, Director of Charter Spectrum Solved My Pay TV Problems

After writing a column about this problem, I got an email from Pete Smith. Pete is the Director for the area. He read my column and wanted to help me get better service. He showed up with several guys and they did a great job. They brought newer digital converter boxes. They rewired my home with new cables. They made sure the Internet boxes talked with the pay TV boxes and everything worked.

When they were done, suddenly I had great TV and fast Internet. I was thrilled.

That was the good news. But why did it take so many years for someone to see my cry for help? What about all the other customers who are having the same problems. Customers who don’t write columns.

Pete said, they are getting to every customer as quickly as they can. I know Spectrum workers are good people. There just needs to be a way for customers to get better service without waiting years.

Bottom line, today, as long as you have up-to-date wiring, new converter boxes and Internet modem, you can get excellent quality Charter Spectrum pay TV as well.

Updating to digital pay TV and Internet to every home and business address can be a massive job. It is a long and slow process. That means it may take quite a long time to get everyone on the same page.

Recommendation to Improve Your Charter Spectrum Pay TV and Internet

I would recommend, if you are not having good service, contact the customer service department and have them come out for a visit to make sure your pay TV and Internet are working correctly. These days they do seem to understand, and they can solve the problem. That’s something new because that didn’t work when it was Time Warner Cable.

The next new Charter offering is wireless with Spectrum Mobile. They just started offering this service a few months ago. While I think this is a good next step for them, sales don’t seem to be as robust as with Comcast Xfinity Mobile. Not yet anyway.

Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile Are Brand New Wireless Services

So far it looks like Spectrum Mobile has roughly 21,000 customers in the last few months, while Xfinity Mobile has almost a million in the last year and a half. I’m watching to see if Spectrum Mobile sales increase.

The way these two providers advertise, and market is different as well.

Xfinity Mobile does not focus on attacking or challenging other wireless providers. They just sell wireless as part of the bundle of pay TV, Internet, VoIP telephone and wireless. This approach seems to be working well for them.

Spectrum Mobile is focused on being more combative in the competitive marketplace. They are using advertising and marketing to pound both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. This is an interesting and different strategy from Comcast.

What’s curious is that while Spectrum Mobile is an MVNO which resells Verizon Wireless services, they are also attacking them with advertising and marketing. So, they are actively competing directly with Verizon, and they use Verizon as their service provider.

This is a delicate balancing act for Spectrum Mobile. They must be careful to focus on certain areas like price and stay away from quality and reliability, because they would have the same quality.

Verizon Wireless Wins Either Was as Retailer or Wholesaler

Verizon Wireless wins either way. Even if they lose a retail customer to Spectrum Mobile, they keep the usage on the wholesale side.

It’s interesting to watch the differences in the way Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile advertise and market. It will also be interesting to watch the way Altice Mobile does the same thing when they launch in the next few months. They resell Sprint.

Bottom line, Charter Spectrum has good quality digital pay TV once they update the home or office having trouble. So, if you are not happy since the switch to digital, give them a call and explain the problem. Let them come out and upgrade your wiring and swap out your converter boxes. If you do, you may be surprised and delighted at the pay TV quality and Internet speed.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

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Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
CHTR Charter Communications Inc. 349.06 7.46 2.18 1,131,976 Trade

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