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Cablevision Attracting New Customers with its Free Muni Wi-Fi Service

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Cablevision Attracting New Customers with its Free Muni Wi-Fi Service
March 11, 2009
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

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If you’re a cable operator with mobility on your mind, and you’re seriously considering rolling out municipal Wi-Fi as an added service for your customers, you might want to take into account Cablevision’s recent success with Optimum (News - Alert) Wi-Fi, a complementary outdoor Wi-Fi service for existing broadband subscribers which the company launched last year.


According to a report from market research firm Dell' (News - Alert)Oro Group, Optimum Wi-Fi contributed to “more than 70 percent sequential growth” in Cablevision's net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter of 2008, “a rate higher than any other cable operator in North America.”
 
According to Ben Kwan, analyst of wireless LAN research at Dell'Oro Group, Cablevision “has seen a strong lift in net subscriber additions” since it rolled out the new service two quarters ago.

Cablevision’s Wi-Fi broadband network covers parts of its footprint in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The company has taken a different approach compared to other carriers’ muni Wi-Fi projects in that it isn’t treating it as a separate moneymaking venture: Rather, Cablevision launched the service for free with the hope that it would help it attract and retain customers of its regular broadband service. (The fact that the company already owns a high-speed Internet infrastructure that can be accessed by the Wi-Fi radios certainly helped.)

Apparently the strategy is working: Customers love the new service and word of mouth is spreading, resulting in increasing subscriptions. With download speeds of 1.5 megabits per second, Optimum Wi-Fi not only lets subscribers take their broadband service with them, making their laptops just like their desktops, they can also get fast wireless Internet access via their Wi-Fi enabled phones.
 
It’s likely that over the next few years other cable operators will follow in Cablevision’s footsteps: As the competition with the phone companies heats up, cable operators will have no other choice but to extend their service outside the home. Offering customers free Wi-Fi in dense metro areas appears to be a good marketing move to not only attract new customers, but retain existing ones.

“Cablevision's Optimum Wi-Fi service is rekindling interest in municipal Wi-Fi applications among other large service providers, such as Comcast (News - Alert),” Kwan says. “For this and other reasons, we believe municipal Wi-Fi applications will become an increasingly important growth driver for the service provider mesh market in 2009.”

According to the Dell’Oro Group’s Wireless LAN Quarterly report, the service provider mesh wireless LAN market declined by almost 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, but is expected to reverse this trend and experience double-digit growth in 2009.

What’s more, the report finds that strong, double-digit revenue growth for enterprise-grade 802.11n equipment was only able to partially offset a sharp decline in 802.11a/g equipment sales in the fourth quarter.

The report includes in-depth coverage of the service provider, enterprise, SOHO, and external client devices markets, with tables containing manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, and unit shipments by wireless standards 802.11g, 802.11a/g and 802.11n.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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