Charter Communications today committed to investing $25 billion in the U.S. and hiring 20,000 new American workers during the next four years. Charter, the nation’s No. 2 cable provider after its 2016 takeover of Time Warner Cable, also said it was eliminating all offshore call centers and opening one in McAllen, TX, that soon will add 600 new jobs.
The deal was unveiled today by President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, with Charter CEO Tom Rutledge at his side (see the video below). On a busy day in Washington D.C., Sean Spicer made it the lead of his White House briefing.
Charter’s stock price was up about 3 points in midday trading after shares appreciated 26% last year. That was good news for Rutledge, who became the odds-on favorite to be deemed 2016’s highest-paid media CEO with an $98.5 million package, up from $16.4 million in 2015, according to the company’s proxy released this month.
The company also has been talking up a new wireless offering, and in January came a report in the Wall Street Journal that Verizon was kicking the tires for a merger.
Rutledge has said he likes what he sees so far from the Trump administration’s new FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who is expected to reverse initiatives to enforce net neutrality rules and derailed an effort that would have allowed pay TV customers to buy their own set-top boxes. “We were bullish about the business before the change in administration and prepared to live in the regulatory environment that was there,” he says. But now “it appears to be better, and makes us more excited about the future of our business.”
Pai released a statement after the announcement:
“The FCC’s top priority is making sure that any American who wants high-speed Internet access, or broadband, is able to get it. To do that, since January, we have been working to set rules of the road that encourage companies to build and upgrade broadband networks across the country. I’m pleased to see that our investment-friendly policies, along with the Administration’s overall regulatory approach, are already producing results. I applaud Charter Communications for its announcement today that it intends to spend $25 billion in broadband infrastructure and technology over the next four years. I am optimistic that this massive investment will help to close the digital divide and to strengthen our economy.”