Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cablevision Seems Quite Smart

As a Cablevision customer there were times I had my doubts. I even had doubts that a CATV company could execute a WiFi system. But Cablevision has exceeded all doubts. They are quite smart in deploying WiFi.

About 10 years ago we tried a mesh WiFi system we called Linear A. It used a modified Roof Net software developed by MIT grad students who went on to found a Google funded start up called Meraki. It was sold to Cisco. But the bottom line was that mesh WiFi works. Make each customers cable modem a Meshed Wifi and you suddenly get a powerful system. I use Cablevision's WiFi as I come home from the City, one train stop after the other. Cheaper than any Verizon service.

In all, this meshed distributed approach has great potential.  If Cablevision can execute this as well as it had its fiber backbone and WiFi network, then I believe it could be a real threat to major urban users.
In 2006-2009 we deployed many of these mesh units but the problem was that there were few dual mode sets, only cellular air interfaces. Now WiFi air interfaces are exploding.

As they state in Fierce Wireless:

Just weeks after launching its low-cost Freewheel Wi-Fi calling and data service, Cablevision.... told investors during the company's fourth quarter earnings call that he believes Freewheel will disrupt the cellular industry and his company is going to put more emphasis on its Wi-Fi initiatives.  Specifically, ... said that his company is going to prioritize Wi-Fi over the company's traditional video business, which is facing rising programming costs. He noted that margins for data products such as Wi-Fi are increasing. Although ... admitted that it was too early to assess demand for Freewheel, he said that the company is seeing usage outside its footprint primarily by non-U.S. citizens who want a low-cost phone available for when they conduct American business.

 Frankly, this is just a great idea, whose time has come. Cablevision has shown both interest and competence and it will be interesting to see how they execute on this. Unlike a Google approach, spend billions and make lots of noise, Cablevision just moves ahead elegantly and with great promise.