WiFi and 'Wi' It Matters

Aug. 14, 2013
WiFi showed as a major topic of interest among cable execs as they presented their most recent round of quarterly financials. Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), for example, reported it has 150,000 access points now available, with 3,500 hotspots added during the ...
WiFi showed as a major topic of interest among cable execs as they presented their most recent round of quarterly financials.Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), for example, reported it has 150,000 access points now available, with 3,500 hotspots added during the second quarter, primarily in New York City."Our customers who use WiFi hotspots tend to churn less than customers who do not use WiFi hotspots. I hesitate to call that cause-and-effect, although the correlation is pronounced. And intuitively, we think that level of value add is going to make our HSD (high-speed data) product more attractive than the alternative," said Robert Marcus, TWC's president and COO. Marcus will take over as chairman and CEO when Glenn Britt retires at the end of the year.As for whether TWC will use WiFi with an MVNO backup as an overall wireless service, Marcus said the company hasn't decided yet. "We continue to be partnered with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), and we're selling each other's services, and we're comfortable with that approach for the time being."Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has installed more than 4 million wireless gateways and has 250,000 hotspots through its cable partnership and home hotspot initiative. "(WiFi) is at the center of our strategy to offer our customers the fastest online experience across devices both inside and outside the home," said Brian Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO.With a 37% penetration rate in broadband, Comcast is optimistic there still is a lot of room for growth. "There is still a significant DSL market out there, and we feel we've got fundamentally a better product. We continue to invest - behind the network and in both capacity and speed as well as in the WiFi gateways we're putting out now that have a better throughput and better capacity," said Steve Burke, EVP, Comcast, and CEO, NBCUniversal, noting that the gateways now have a throughput of 250 Mbps compared to the 80 Mbps of the previous version.For its part, Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) serves more than 1 million users through 90,000 WiFi access points. The company signed an agreement recently with New Jersey Transit for deploying WiFi in stations and on trains. The initial phase will be completed this year, with the entire project finalized by the end of 2016."Our WiFi customers now ... are using approximately 20 megabits of WiFi product a month, significantly reducing the expense of their data bill on their mobile products," said James Dolan, Cablevision president and CEO. "The WiFi product itself is a superior experience to the cellular data products that are out there. The combination of a superior experience, along with the savings, gives us an advantage in the marketplace."Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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