Blue Ridge Communications, a cable operator that serves parts of Pennsylvania, is entering the premium whole-home WiFi market through a partnership with eero.
Blue Ridge’s new premium offering, called HomeFi, offers eero’s compact WiFi access points for $5.95 per device (Blue Ridge’s FAQ for the product suggests one HomeFi eero for every 1,000 square feet, or one to two devices per floor). Those access points, which extend coverage in the home, work in tandem with the customer’s cable modem and an MSO-branded app that enables users to manage their home WiFi networks and set up elements such as parental controls.
Early into the program, Blue Ridge requiring pro installs of HomeFi (with a one-time activation fee of $49.95), but the operator also intends to make a self-install option available, according to John Del Viscio, Blue Ridge’s director of operations.
Del Viscio said the need for a premium whole-home WiFi product was driven by customers that are connecting more and more devices to the network and desire solid coverage in all corners of the home.
“For us, this seems like a natural extension to the product and services we offer,” Del Viscio said, noting that Blue Ridge put several vendors through the paces before picking its horse for HomeFi, but was partially attracted to eero’s performance and ease to set up.
Blue Ridge soft-launched HomeFi about 30 days ago, but intends to ramp up marketing soon via email, TV spots, mailers and other tactics, he said, adding that contractors and service agents have also been trained to support the new offering.
Blue Ridge is also the first announced cable operator partner for eero, which has largely been focused on selling its platform at retail. Eero also has a partnership with Cincinnati Bell whereby the service provider is selling the vendor’s devices at its retail stores.
“With the proliferation of OTT/connected devices and smart-home technologies, Blue Ridge understands how important the WiFi connection is to support their customers’ broadband needs and viewing experiences,” Matt Packard, head of ISP sales and business development, said in a statement.
Blue Ridge initially leased out eero’s first generation hardware, but is now mixing in vendor’s latest wares soon. Eero’s gen-two product set includes the “Beacon,” a more compact access point that plugs directly into power outlets and is equipped with a Thread radio and an LED nightlight.
With HomeFi, Blue Ridge joins a growing group of ISPs and cable operators that have developed and launched whole-home WiFi products. Comcast, for example, has launched “xFi,” a cloud-based home network management platform and is developing a new line of wall-pluggable WiFi “pods” in partnership with Plume that will extend WiFi coverage in the home.
The trend is also opening up opportunities for other vendors, such as Google, Netgear, Luma, Linksys, Arris, and AirTies, which is already working with U.S. providers such as Atlantic Broadband, Frontier Communications and Midco.