Charter CEO Chris Winfrey isn’t impressed with 5G home internet service.
The service, often referred to as fixed wireless access, has seen tremendous growth over the last two years. In the second quarter alone, new subscribers to 5G home internet service accounted for virtually the entire broadband industry’s growth, with nearly 900,000 net new customers. The entire cable industry just added 10,000 net new customers, although Charter added 70,000 net new consumer broadband subscribers in the period.
But that didn’t stop Winfrey from taking a shot at the service.
“The initial success of fixed wireless access shows that there is a niche market for limited bandwidth, limited capacity and limited reliability product that exists in the marketplace,” he said at the Goldman Sach Communacopia + Technology conference on Thursday. “As consumer bandwidth needs expand over time and capacity shrinks, I think fixed wireless access turns into another form of DSL.”
Winfrey comparing 5G home internet to DSL? Ouch.
While there are still millions of DSL customers out there, the service is considered antiquated, with slow internet connections enabled by copper lines that the telecom companies are eager to rip out in favor of faster and cheaper fiber-optic lines. Carriers like AT&T see 5G home internet as a replacement for those old DSL connections.
But Winfrey believes there’s limited demand for the service, particularly as broadband needs continue to grow. He discussed the move to DOCSIS 4.0 and providing more multi-gigabit speeds to its customers in more places over time.
Winfrey’s belief that 5G home internet will be limited isn’t wholly controversial. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said at the same conference on Wednesday that he doesn’t see the service replacing cable or fiber. The company isn’t planning to launch the service the entire nation, and is finding places where it has excess spectrum capacity so it wouldn’t disrupt its core mobile wireless business.
Winfrey also spoke about the dispute with the Disney, saying he was ready to move on if the two sides couldn’t agree to a new model of video distribution.
Cord Cutters News AT&T and Verizon for comment. T-Mobile declined to comment on the remarks.
Correction: The story previously stated Charter lost 200,000 broadband customers, but those were video customers.