Charter takes aim at enterprise with new 100G transport services

Charter Communications is stepping up its enterprise game, rolling out a suite of new fiber transport products which can provide speeds up to 100 Gbps. The move could intensify competition between Charter and other enterprise connectivity providers like Zayo, Lumen Technologies and Windstream.

New offerings from Charter’s Spectrum Enterprise unit will include IP and Ethernet internet transport, WAN, wavelength and redundancy services which will be scalable from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps. The operator said these can help connect corporate headquarters and branch locations, private data centers and public clouds. Among other use cases, it pointed to a need for such high-speed services for effective cloud access, computing, file sharing, video collaboration and high-speed trading.

Bob Schroeder, VP of Enterprise Data Product Management for Spectrum Enterprise told Fierce high-speed data services are nothing new for Charter as it has been making these available to clients for some time now. Its announcement this week, though, is about making those options broadly available across its entire enterprise fiber network.

Though Charter is primarily known as a cable operator, it has a sprawling fiber system. In fact, as of the end of  2021, Vertical Systems Group ranked Charter number three – behind only AT&T and Verizon – in a list of companies with the most fiber lit commercial buildings.

Indeed, Charter has poured quite a bit of money into building out its network. It invested $1 billion in 2017 and again in 2018 to increase the breadth and depth of its enterprise fiber. As of 2018, it had around 200,000 fiber lit buildings. But this week it pegged that figure at 270,000. It added it has “fiber proximity” to millions more business locations and Schroeder told Fierce Spectrum Enterprise “continually works with clients to extend our network reach to where they need us to be.”

“A key factor that I want to call out with regard to the Spectrum Enterprise solution is that the 100 Gbps speeds are not confined to specific metro areas or specific transport routes,” he continued. “The availability of 100 Gbps speeds for our Ultra-High Speed Data services is across our full fiber network – not only the backbone. For clients that have some locations out of our footprint, we’ll leverage local network providers for a Type 2 fiber connection for last mile connectivity.”

The operator has been eyeing gains in the enterprise space for some time. During its Q2 2021 earnings call, executives highlighted an opportunity to grow its small and medium business share and boost its large enterprise base with add-on services that increase retention for its connectivity offerings. At the time, though, they said the operator was early in its journey to tackle those segments.

Its rollout of higher-bandwidth services will allow Charter to compete on a more level playing field with the likes of Zayo, Windstream and Lumen. However, further enhancements may be required given all three are pushing into the 400G arena.

Late last year, Lumen trotted out 400G wavelength services while Windstream debuted several coast-to-coast 400G routes earlier this year. Zayo is also expected to complete an upgrade of its network to 400G by the end of 2022.