Charter doubles up internet starting speed to 200 Mbps

After posting robust broadband subscriber adds this year, Charter isn't giving its competitors much breathing room.

Charter has doubled the starting download speed of its Spectrum Internet tier from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps across 17 U.S. markets. The faster starting speeds will reach about 8 million additional homes across those markets.

The 200 Mbps speeds are available now to new Spectrum Internet customers. Charter said it would automatically increase speeds for current residential customers with new Spectrum Internet packages across the 17 markets during the first quarter of next year.

Upon completion, starting speeds for 200 Mbps will be available to nearly 75% of the company’s 41-state footprint, including the following markets: 

Albany, N.Y.; Beaumont, Texas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Columbia, Mo.; Elmira, N.Y.; Lexington, Ky.; Orlando, Fla.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Rochester, Minn.; Rochester, N.Y.; Savannah, Ga.; Springfield, Mo.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; and Tri-Cities, Tenn.

Charter said a small percentage of current Spectrum Internet customers would need new DOCSIS 3.0 modems, which are available at no cost, to get the faster speeds. Charter will reach out to the subscribers that need the new modems.

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For fiber, Verizon offers symmetrical 200 Mbps speeds while Spectrum Internet has upstream speeds of around 10 Mbps for its 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps tiers. A spokesperson for Charter said the upstream speeds weren't increased in tandem with the 200 Mbps downstream speeds as the new starting point.

Charter has DOCSIS 3.1 deployed across all of its networks and has maintained that it can reach symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds with its existing HFC network.

During Charter's third quarter earnings call in October, CEO Tom Rutledge said Charter was continuously increasing the capacity in its core and hubs and augmenting its network to improve speeds and performance. 

RELATED: Charter signs up 537,000 more broadband subscribers in Q3

For the quarter, added 537,000 residential and small business internet customers versus 380,000 in the prior year quarter. In the past 12 months, Charter has added 2.3 million internet customers and 2 million overall customer relationships.

In its second quarter, Charter's added 850,000 residential and small business internet subscribers compared to 258,000 during the second quarter of 2019. 

RELATED: Charter scores big in Phase I of the FCC's RDOF auction for rural broadband builds

Charter is also in the process of building out its broadband network into rural areas. Charter was among the biggest winners for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced earlier this month

Bidding under the name of Charter Holdings, Charter was awarded $1.22 billion in the auction that wrapped up early last week. Charter bagged 24 states, which was the most in the auction, and will provide its service to more than 1 million locations.

RDOF represents a $20 billion, 10-year opportunity for service providers and their vendor partners to build and connect faster broadband speeds in rural and unserved areas across the U.S. 

During an investor conference this month, Charter CEO Rutledge said Charter would forge ahead with its plan to offer more broadband in rural areas regardless of the RDOF auction results. Charter could end up competing against T-Mobile's 5G fixed wireless broadband service in some rural areas.