Charter expands 200 Mbps starter internet speed to 95% of its footprint

Charter Communications continued a multi-year march to double the entry-level speed available on its Spectrum Internet service, rolling out 200 Mbps service in more than three dozen new markets.

The 37 markets where the faster service is now available cover more than 5 million homes and include Bakersfield, California; Bangor, Maine; Binghamton, New York; Dayton, Ohio; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Charter first began upgrading its starting internet speeds in December 2020, boosting rates for around 8 million homes across 17 markets. It doubled speeds in another 17 markets covering approximately 6 million additional homes in March 2021.

Including the 37 markets it just covered, Charter said starting speeds of 200 Mbps are available to nearly 95% of its service area. Carl Leuschner, Charter’s SVP of Internet and Voice Products, said in a statement it expects to complete the rollout “of 200 Mbps starting speeds across our entire service area later this year.”

The operator’s shift comes as consumers increasingly opt for higher speed tiers. OpenVault’s Q4 2021 Broadband Insights Report showed the fastest growing speed tier was the 200-400 Mbps option, which achieved 80% growth year on year. Approximately 28.5% of subscribers are now on that tier, compared to 15.8% in Q4 2020. Meanwhile, adoption of the 100-200 Mbps service tier dropped from 50.6% to 36.9% over the same period.

Fellow operator Cable One, which offers service under the Sparklight brand, recently unveiled a plan to ditch its 100 Mbps offering and automatically bump customers up to its 200 Mbps tier. At the time, CEO Julie Laulis said the move came in response to increased consumer demand for faster speeds and argued its 200 Mbps plan was already its de facto “standard offering.”

A Charter representative confirmed the operator’s 100 Mbps tier is no longer offered in markets where the 200 Mbps upgrade has been launched. However, the representative explained to Fierce the operator views its move less as a way to drop its 100 Mbps offering and more one which will allow it to offer a faster 200 Mbps service without having to add a tier to its lineup. The 200 Mbps service is being offered alongside the company’s 400 Mbps and gigabit options.

“This is a continuation of our long track record of increasing speeds,” the representative said, noting its entry level plan initially offered 60 Mbps before being upgraded to 100 Mbps in the wake of Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The representative added there is no price increase associated with the speed upgrade and customers who need a new modem to take advantage of the service will be provided one at no charge.