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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 15, 2009

Cablevision Reports 2 Million Uses of Free WiFi Service

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Cablevision Systems  Corp.’s WiFi network seems to have a following.
Broadband customers have log on to the Internet more than 2 million times using Cablevision’s free Optimum (News - Alert) WiFi service, the company announced. What’s more, customers are averaging more than 1 million minutes online each day since the service launched last fall, Cablevision said.
Cablevision's WiFi service is available across the firm’s Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester/Dutchess and New Jersey service areas.  The service came as a freeenhancement to Cablevision’s Optimum Online high-speed Internet customers, TMCnet reported.
"We are building our WiFi network as a value-added extension of our residential and business-based Internet products, so it's extremely gratifying to know that our Optimum Online customers have already accessed the Internet more than 2 million times over Optimum WiFi,” said Kevin Curran, Cablevision's senior vice president of wireless product development, in a  statement. “Optimum WiFi has exploded in popularity, as more of our customers are finding and using the network every day."
Current Optimum Online customers who use laptop computers and portable WiFi-enabled devices, such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and BlackBerry (News - Alert) can access the free WiFi service through a sign-on screen. Once a customer logs into the service, the network delivers fast speeds of up to 3.0 mbps downstream and up to 1.5 mbps upstream.  Cablevision expects to complete the deployment across its entire service area by early 2010, the company said.
As a result, Cablevision experienced more than 70 percent growth in net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter of 2008, TMCnet reported. TMC President Rich Tehrani called Cablevision’s decision to offer free WiFi service “one of the smartest moves” in the communications space.”
And as the number of WiFi-enabled consumer electronics devices is expected to grow, so too are the amount of WiFi subscribers.
The latest milestone comes after Cablevision hit its 1 millionth Internet session in April, TMCnet reported.
Cablevision appears to be on to something. Should other cable companies join suit? Probably, Tehrani wrote. A free WiFi offer “is a great way to keep customers loyal and in addition, makes users think hard before leaving a cable provider,” he added.
Broadband providers are leveraging free WiFi offers more and more as a competitive tool. And consumers are still paying attention, despite the economic downturn. Following record-high revenue in 2008 ($1.23 billion), the cable broadband hardware market remained steady in the first quarter of 2009, according to two industry reports by Infonetics Research.
“The cable broadband market was somewhat of a bright spot, and proves that cable operators remain committed to expanding their DOCSIS 3.0 footprint,” Jeff Heymen, directing analyst, broadband and video for Infonetics Research (News - Alert), said in a statement.
Other companies are testing the waters. Last month, Qwest (News - Alert) Communications International launched wireless Internet service to broadband customers via AT&T hotspots nationwide, TMCnet reported. Verizon (News - Alert) reportedly plans to offer free Wi-Fi access at hotspots to subscribers to its home broadband service.

Edited by Amy Tierney