Charter Communications was founded in 1993 by three former executives of a St. Louis cable company, Cencom Cable Television. Charter expanded rapidly in ensuing years, partly by acquiring other cable companies. Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, bought a controlling interest in the company in 1998, and with his capital, Charter was able to buy Marcus Cable, a cable TV operator based in Dallas. With the acquisition, Charter had more than 1 million customers. Over the next year, Charter made ten major acquisitions, then began trading cable systems with other companies to consolidate its cable operations geographically.
In November 2013, Charter adopted a new fiber-optic cable system to replace the copper-wire coaxial cables it had been using. The new all-digital network will provide a sharper TV picture and much faster internet service than was available with the older equipment. Charter calls the upgraded system for residential services ‘Charter Spectrum’.
Advantages of Charter Communications: Charter offers bundled services in all-digital cable TV, internet, and phone for a reasonable price. In 2011, Charter won several of PC World’s ISP awards. The same year, Charter gave most of its internet customers two free speed upgrades.
Disadvantages of Charter Communications: Charter does not have a sterling reputation for customer service. In 2007, PC World rated Charter’s cable internet service the worst among the major cable internet service providers. To be fair, Charter has upgraded its performance substantially since then, but it its reputation will need more time to recover fully.