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Charter Is offering free mobile phone lines

Charter Communications Inc. is offering a free wireless phone line to some new and existing customers, in the latest escalation of the fight between cable companies and their telecom rivals.

Wireless customers who purchase a new mobile line for $30 a month will get a second line for free, Charter said in a press release Monday. The company is already offering Spectrum One, a $50-a-month plan that includes internet access and one mobile line.

The company lowered the cost of its mobile service to $30 a month from $45 as part of the promotion. The No. 2 cable TV provider will tout the new pricing in a media campaign starting this week.

Charter, which has seen its broadband growth collapse at the hands of wireless home internet and fiber services, is hoping the low-cost wireless offer will help stem some of the customer losses it’s seeing in its 41-state territory. The promotion comes at the same time that Charter is sending out notifications to broadband customers that they will see a $5 rate increase on their next bills.

Those price increases apply to internet-only customers in most markets, according to a Charter spokesman.

Wireless service has been a big draw for Charter and Comcast Corp., the largest cable provider. The two companies each added more than 300,000 mobile subscribers last quarter.

Packaging mobile and broadband promotions like Spectrum One is a way to revive broadband growth, Charter executives said on an earnings call last week.

“Spectrum One has the opportunity to drive incremental internet growth,” said Chris Winfrey, chief operating officer, who will take over as CEO when Tom Rutledge steps down in December.

The Spectrum One bundle will compete directly with T-Mobile US Inc.’s $50 wireless home internet and mobile phone package. Verizon Communications Inc. has also been aiming discounted plans at cable customers. In June, Verizon cut the price of its entry level broadband service to $25 a month for wireless customers on top tier plans. Bloomberg

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