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New Charter to have double Comcast's broadband footprint

Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable trucks.
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Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable trucks.

Charter Communications' deal to acquire Time Warner Cable and the smaller Bright House Networks will catapult the new company into the broadband big leagues.

If the deal goes through, the combined company would have more than 23 million customers, close to Comcast's 27 million—the largest customer base in the industry. The new Charter would cover almost twice as much wired broadband territory as Comcast, with nearly the same number of potential customers in its coverage area, according to data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.


Although the acquisition of Time Warner will add more than 84,000 square miles of territory in 29 states to Charter's footprint, less than 1 percent of the service areas will overlap with existing Charter territory, according to a CNBC analysis of NTIA data. That includes areas around Dallas, Los Angeles and Charlotte, North Carolina. Comcast's footprint includes 84,234 square miles.

Despite vast coverage areas—about 66,000 square miles—Charter alone only serves about 6.3 million broadband customers. That's because the areas the company serves tend to have lower population densities that have on average a third as many potential customers as Comcast territory. With this deal, the new Charter and Comcast would each cover about a third of the U.S. population, while Comcast will still hold more than half of the high-speed Internet market compared to about 30 percent for the new Charter.

Both Time Warner Cable and Bright House serve areas with nearly twice as many customers per square mile as Charter. Considering that it is cheaper and easier to deploy broadband in areas with high population density, that could make a difference for the combined company as it fights for the top spot in the industry.

"While the maps are an interesting graphic representation of the proposed footprint of new Charter," a Charter spokesperson said. "Comcast as it currently exists is meaningfully larger than new Charter would be in every metric used by the industry to measure size, including customers, homes passed, market share and others."

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

UPDATED: This story was updated to include comments from Charter Communications. Also, after the Charter deal with Time Warner, Comcast will still hold more than half of the high-speed Internet market compared to about 30 percent for the new Charter. The Comcast holding was misstated in an earlier version of this article.