Spectrum Mobile

Charter said today that it will use Nokia for a range of radio access network (RAN) infrastructure in trial markets for its 5G mobile network.

The products involved include strand mounted radios for CBRS, baseband units, and a newly developed CBRS strand mount small cells all-in-one portfolio.

Strand mounted small cells leverage the existing infrastructure underlying cable companies’ broadband and video services, thereby minimizing costs.

As Nokia explained in a press release, “Using compact and lightweight small cell products, cable operators can more easily and cost-effectively provide 5G wireless connectivity by leveraging their existing DOCSIS infrastructure without having to build additional cell sites.”

As financial analysts at MoffettNathanson explained in a research note last year, strand-mounted small cells can be hung between poles, eliminating the need for zoning, permitting, fiber backhaul, separate power and costly labor for fiber splices and installation. The analysts estimate that this approach can reduce costs by as much as 90% in comparison with the traditional small cell approach.

Cable operators have spent more than a billion dollars on CBRS spectrum, according to Nokia. The goal is to use the spectrum to support their own mobile network infrastructure to supplement the mobile connectivity that the cable companies buy from traditional wireless providers to support their mobile service offerings. Charter spent $464 million in the CBRS auction.

Cable wireless offerings have had considerable success, garnering a large share of new customer additions each quarter. Using their own infrastructure in high-traffic areas is expected to improve margins on those services.

Charter launched its mobile offering, dubbed Spectrum Mobile, in 2018.

According to today’s press release, the Charter win is the first for Nokia in the cable market.

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