Charter CEO Working to Reduce 'Cable Guy' Visits

1:00 PM PST 03/10/2014 by Paul Bond
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Tom Rutledge

Tom Rutledge also says he is "observing" the Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable but adds, "We don't need M&A to be a successful company."

Tom Rutledge is no fan of multiple visits from the "cable guy," he said during a conversation at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Florida on Monday.

The Charter Communications CEO said he is working hard to minimize the need to roll out personnel and trucks to customers because "getting that out of the business" improves the quality of the product. One way Charter is accomplishing that is by selling triple-play services so that multiple products can be installed with a single visit and fewer "transactions."

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"Taking transactions out of the business actually increases customer satisfaction," Rutledge said. "The opportunity for things to go wrong are legendary. I mean, people make movies about it -- Cable Guy. Getting that out of the business dramatically improves satisfaction."

Rutledge also talked about "a whole bunch of opportunities" for Charter and other cable companies that will come by way of looming 10-gigabyte-per-second Internet speeds and wireless Internet connections in every home.

"We'll have the ability to probably do something along the lines of a 'wireless drop,' meaning a wireless connection for every household, which might not even require a physical connection between the house and the street," he said.

He said that he does not anticipate that consumers will want to navigate giant TV screens with their fingers the same way they do with iPads and other tablets, therefore Charter is focusing on improving remote controls for such functionality.

Of the impending Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable -- a company Charter once coveted -- Rutledge said, "We're observing them." He added, "We don't need M&A to be a successful company."

Charter shares, meanwhile, were rising 1 percent to more than $128 a share on Monday during midday trading. Wall Street analysts have been friendly to the stock lately, and, on Monday, Jefferies Group upgraded shares to "buy" with a $150 price target. On Friday, Northland Capital upgraded the stock to "outperform."

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