Cablevision Fortifies Phone Options

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Bethpage, N.Y.— Cablevision Systems Corp. ramped up its telephony offerings last week, cutting a wireless deal with Sprint PCS and offering unlimited calls to Puerto Rico as part of its voice-over-Internet protocol product.

The MSO’s arrangement with Sprint PCS will allow its cable subscribers to order wireless phone service from Sprint through the Optimum Store Online. But Cablevision isn’t adding wireless phone service to its bundle of video, high-speed data and VoIP phone products.

Under the agreement, Cablevision customers who buy Sprint wireless phone service from Optimum store will receive a $70 “Optimum Cash” rebate for each phone line they order.

A Cablevision spokesman said the MSO has no immediate plans to add wireless phone service to its bundle, but that the company is exploring a wireless play.

Cablevision also sells televisions, VCRs and other consumer-electronics products through its Web site (www.optimumstore.com).

Meanwhile, the metro New York area-based MSO is now making unlimited calls to Puerto Rico part of its monthly $34.95 unlimited Optimum Voice VoIP service. The MSO had already offered customers flat monthly calling to the United States and Canada.

Extending the calling plan to Puerto Rico could serve as a significant acquisition inducement: some 27% of New York City’s population, or 2.2 million people, are of Hispanic origin, with people of Puerto Rican descent accounting for 37% of that base, according to 2002 U.S. Census Bureau data. Another 900,000 Hispanics live in New Jersey.

For $34.95, customers also receive enhanced voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, caller ID blocking, call return, three-way calling, call-forwarding and directory-assistance features.

The service also includes a “My Optimum Voice” Web portal that allows customers to forward calls, listen to voice mail messages from any computer with Internet access, review calling records and manage other account features.

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