Cablevision Touts WiFi Milestone

Deploys 1 Million-Plus ‘Optimum WiFi’ Hotspots

Cablevision Systems said its network of WiFi hotspots emitting an “Optimum WiFi” SSID has exceeded the 1 million mark thanks in part to recent deployments at The Coney Island and Long Beach boardwalks and 24 New Jersey Transit rail stations.

Cablevision has been deploying quasi-public hotspots with its own SSID in a variety of public and business locations that are also open to other cable operator members of the “Cable WiFi” roaming consortium (Comcast, Cox Communications,  Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are the other members), as well as in home-side gateways. The breakdown of Cablevision’s WiFi deployment between those location types was not immediately known.

In May, Cablevision CEO James Dolan said on the MSO’s first quarter call that Cablevision was rolling out “smart” WiFi routers that would put the company on track to expand its Optimum WiFi footprint to 1 million access points by year-end. “WiFi  is a differentiator for the business,” Dolan said, noting that “you’re going to see some of these products are going to be rather disruptive, most likely to some of the current marketplaces, particularly the wireless data market.”

Cablevision also shed some more light on usage trends, noting that its Optimum WiFi network now hosts more than 250 million sessions per month, with customers averaging 4 gigabytes of data per month, which, the MSO points out, “exceeds the data limits of many common cellular data plans.”

“Connectivity is the driving force behind our WiFi expansion; our customers love using their mobile devices when on the go, and Optimum WiFi keeps them connected,” said Kevin Packingham, Cablevision’s executive vice president of product, the former Samsung and Sprint exec who joined the MSO earlier this year. “We are pleased that more than a million customers have heartily embraced this service, passing more and more data over Optimum WiFi as an alternative to cellular data plans.”

At last check, MSOs that are part of the Cable WiFi roaming partnership had deployed more than 250,000 hotspots that are available to their respective cable modem subscribers.

Other operators have also been busy on the WiFi front. Speaking on Comcast’s recent second quarter earnings call, Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said the operator had lit up about 3.6 million hotspots that broadcast the “Xfinity WiFi” SSID, inching it toward a goal of 8 million hotspots by the end of the year. Of that figure, Comcast expects that 7 million will come way of customer-side WiFi gateways.