Time Warner Cable: Public and Mobile

Time Warner’s cable arm, which has 14.6 million customers for its video, broadband and voice services, is on the cusp of some dramatic changes. Tuesday morning the company says it has become a public company, with class A common stock to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange as early as March 1 ,2007. The company didn’t go public in the traditional method, but as a result of the Adelphia’s Chapter 11 plan.

At the same time according to local reports, the company has started selling its cell phone service in partnership with Sprint in Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Texas. These are the first markets Time Warner Cable is attempting to offer its quad play combo of voice, video, data and mobile. Later this year the company will launch wireless services in more markets — if you recall the company along with a joint venture bought 137 spectrum licenses in the last auction, which cover 20 MHz of Advanced Wireless Spectrum in about 90% of the continental United States and Hawaii.

A lot of game-changing plans on deck for the cable company run by CEO Glenn Britt, but the company has so far been highly successful at bringing in subscribers to its triple play of services (now quad) play. The company’s 14.6 million subscribers have an ARPU of $90 a month, the company says. CNN Money points out that the stock is currently trading on a so-called “when issued” basis at $41 per share, which would give the company an approximate market value of $40 billion.

But the business of providing voice, video and broadband is highly competitive, and will only become more so when AT&T and Verizon finish building their fiber networks. Not to mention upstart voice providers pushing voice free, and viewers of Internet TV growing rapidly. Not all of Time Warner Cable’s plans have gone well, and today Light Reading says the company ended a trial of PC-based IPTV service in San Diego.

To compete effectively in the market, Time Warner Cable needs its mobile service to work. Wireless is becoming an increasingly important way to access consumers and the phone companies are relying on wireless for their futures. In its latest filing Time Warner Cable points out the possible risk factors in its wireless plans:

“We are exploring various means by which we can offer our customers mobile services but there can be no assurance that we will be successful in doing so or that any such services we offer will appeal to consumers. There can be no assurance that the joint venture will successfully develop any such products, that any products developed will be accepted by consumers or, even if accepted, that the offering will be profitable.”

The News & Observer says the service is called Mobile Access, and “a customer must subscribe to at least one of Time Warner’s other offerings,” to get mobile. Will the company be able to make mobile work?