Expanding the footprint of its already significant WiFi hotspot network in the New York metro area, Cablevision is now extending its reach to nearly a dozen major commuter rail stations in northern New Jersey.
Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which has more than 100,000 hotspots and growing in the New York region, has announced that its Optimum WiFi service is now available throughout 11 New Jersey Transit train stations, including major hubs at Hoboken Terminal, Newark Penn Station, Secaucus Junction, Trenton Transit Center, and Newark Broad Street. Other stations on the list are the Meadowlands, Metropark, Montclair State University, New Brunswick, Rahway, and Summit.
The MSO's existing Optimum Online subscribers can access the NJ Transit hotspots for free. Cablevision is also offering free one-day passes for non-subscribers. Consumers are allowed five free passes per device. Further passes are available for $4.99 each.
Cablevision and NJ Transit launched their public-private partnership last June. Eventually, the partners plan to extend hotspot access, not only to more stations, but also to the trains riding the NJ Transit lines. Railway WiFi is notoriously difficult to manage, both because of traffic bursts in stations that coincide with train arrivals, and because WiFi on trains requires sustained connectivity even while the cars are in motion.
But there are major benefits to offering WiFi in these high-population areas, and to reaching the more than 100,000 commuters who return to the same stations every day. Cable companies see WiFi hotspots as a great way to reduce churn, promote their brands, and possibly even generate new revenue.
Cablevision declined to discuss its plans for WiFi monetization for this article. However, beyond offering day passes, other industry experts have cited opportunities to make money through backhaul and mobile offload support and WiFi analytics services. (See Cable Finally Sees Money in Wireless.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading