Cablevision Plays WiFi Card

MSO completes the 'initial phase' of a WiFi installation that provides free wireless Internet access to its cable modem customers

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

September 4, 2008

3 Min Read
Cablevision Plays WiFi Card

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has completed the "initial phase" of a WiFi deployment that will eventually throw a wireless canopy over the MSO's cable footprint in portions of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The latest portion of Cablevision's "Optimum WiFi" installation covers "commercial and high-traffic areas" of Nassau County, N.Y., in areas of Suffolk County, N.Y., and on commuter rail platforms and station parking lots across Long Island.

In conjunction, Cablevision has launched a new Website that maps out the location of the its WiFi hotspots, offers a series of video tutorials, and provides the customer sign-on screen, which requires a user ID and password. (See Cablevision Lights Up WiFi.)

Cablevision is offering free, unlimited access to the WiFi network to its base of Optimum Online customers, delivering wireless connection speeds of 1.5 Mbit/s. Cablevision had 2.39 million cable modem subs at the end of the second quarter, marking a penetration rate of greater than 50 percent.

The company has also expressed an interest in offering non-subs access for a fee, but Cablevision, which is going toe-to-toe with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and its FiOS network in some neighborhoods, has yet to introduce such an option.

"We believe free and broadly available WiFi access will become an important and popular enhancement for our Optimum Online customers," said Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge, in a statement. "We have already built and activated the nation's largest and most advanced consumer WiFi network."

Cablevision announced plans for the WiFi canopy in May this year, estimating that the installation would take about two years to complete, with costs running about $70 per home passed or about $300 million total. The operator spent about $20 million in the second quarter toward a plan to deploy both the WiFi mesh and Docsis 3.0, a platform that pushes shared cable modem speeds beyond 100 Mbit/s. (See Cablevision Begins Wideband Assault.)

The MSO has not announced any vendor partners for its WiFi project, but consumers in the area have offered visual evidence that both Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and BelAir Networks Inc. are involved. (See Cablevision High on WiFi.)

Initially, Cablevision's WiFi network will focus on Internet access, but the company noted earlier this year that it will "eventually be a mobile voice-capable network" as well.

That, of course, indicates that Cablevision, at least for now, has no plans to join three major U.S. cable operators -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Bright House Networks -- in an investment in the the "new" Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), which will center on WiMax-based services. (See Cable Plays Clearwire Card.)

Cox Communications Inc. , meanwhile, is striking out on its own with plans to build out a mobile network based on spectrum obtained via the 700 MHz auctions. (See Cox Refreshes Wireless Agenda and Cox Waxes Wireless .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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