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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 03, 2010

Cablevision Seeks Wi-Fi Ticket to Ride in NYC

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

Talk about your sticky service offering: Cablevision Systems (News - Alert) Corp. is setting the stage to bring Wi-Fi to New York City train riders.

The nation's fifth- largest U.S. cable operator has put in a proposal to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority requesting permission to offer the wireless service to Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuters.

If it gets the green light, Cablevision could turn up the service within 12 months.

Cablevision expects to offer Wi-Fi on the trains for free to its high-speed Internet subscribers. Those who are not Cablevision broadband customers will be charged a "reasonable" fee.

Service providers of all stripes are using public Wi-Fi as a way to add value to their broadband packages in an attempt to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Indeed, Cablevision has been growing its wireless footprint in the Big Apple (News - Alert) in a move to better compete with Verizon Communications, which is targeting NYC with its FiOS (News - Alert) fiber optic-based TV service.

Meanwhile, AT&T recently announced  Wi-Fi in Times Square. And Yahoo and the Times Square Alliance  at the turn of the year also unveiled a Times Square Wi-Fi offer.

"It's becoming a value play, especially when players like Verizon (News - Alert) have mobile solutions as part of their core DNA," Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg was quoted as saying in a March TMCnet report on Wi-Fi. "This makes offerings from cable companies more attractive for consumers. More importantly, it reflects a trend of three core consumer screens - PC, TV and phone - that are connected and work together. Consumer expectations have changed, and these companies are adapting to meet that."

ABI Research (News - Alert) recently unveiled a report  forecasting that Wi-Fi IC shipments will surpass 770 million units this year, which would be an increase of nearly 33 percent from last year. Total shipments of consumer electronic products with Wi-Fi functionality, meanwhile, are expected to exceed 530 million in 2015, with a 26 percent CAGR between 2009 and 2015, according to the same report.

Edited by Alice Straight