LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: Craig Cowden, SVP of wireless technology for cable company Charter Communications, revealed more details of the company’s planned move into mobile, including how changes in mobile architectures are enabling it to leverage its existing assets.

Speaking at the CBRS Alliance partner event today, Cowden said: “One of the reasons cable in general hasn’t reached into mobile is that it is generally a macro architecture, and there wasn’t really anywhere we could leverage our existing HFC plant in the macro. But as wireless infrastructure goes from 4G to 5G, it’s going from macro to small cells, and we definitely think our HFC plant is a competitive advantage”.

“Charter already is a wireless company. 80 per cent of the traffic is served in the home or in the office, and we are a significant Wi-Fi provider that already serves a significant amount of traffic over wireless infrastructure – but we do not monetise that. We are not a mobility provider, so that’s what we intend to do,” he said.

Charter is looking to mix wide area coverage as a Verizon MVNO with its own Wi-Fi infrastructure for offload, with licensed and unlicensed small cells added to the mix “to further offload and for other use cases”.

The cable company is set to trial CBRS-enabled technology in Florida and North Carolina imminently, working with a number of vendor partners. The work includes trials for mobility and investigations into how it can be used with existing cable infrastructure.

CBRS uses shared spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, with the CBRS Alliance looking to promote the use of LTE-based infrastructure. It recently announced CTIA will manage a new product certification programme, which is scheduled to launch by the end of 2017.

Ed Chan, SVP for technology strategy and planning its Verizon, said CBRS has potential to support new services, such as LTE-based intelligent hotspots. “It’s going to be a good spectrum for us for normal mobile services, and also it is certainly going to be able to provide private LTE services, which is a brand new market,” he said.

“If you ask any CIO if they are willing to put mission-critical systems onto Wi-Fi, they will tell you there is no way they are going to do that. But if you enable LTE with CBRS, it’s a different conversation.”