Cablevision was busy last week, announcing not only a new trial of an Internet to TV service that should allow users to watch Hulu in their living room
, but also announcing plans to begin deploying their network DVR service starting in April
. But also buried in the company's earnings discussion was the fact that Cablevision is also testing phones that float between the carrier's Wi-Fi network and traditional cellular networks.
Cablevision has slowly been deploying Wi-Fi service, which they offer free to subscribers both in their footprint, and across major commuter train lines around New York City. The deployment and
DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades across their entire network cost them just $300 million -- or less than $100 per subscriber. Speaking on the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call last week, Cablevision's COO Tom Rutledge indicated the company testing of Wi-Fi phones is going well.
"We are trialing phones that switch from Wi-Fi to cellular and back as you move in and out of Wi-Fi and cellular zones," said Rutledge. "So when you are in a Wi-Fi zone, the traffic goes over our Wi-Fi and ... cable network -- and when you are outside of our footprint or outside of this Wi-Fi footprint, the signal travels through a cellular network. The test is so far proving to be good and consistent with our view of what is possible and gives us some hope that we will be able to launch additional products using the Wi-Fi network that will look like what some people think of as cellular telephone."
Details as for the cellular side of this equation remain scarce, though it sounds like UMA
(unlicensed mobile access) technology. All Rutledge had to say was that Cablevision had yet to really decide whether they'd like to build a wireless network themselves (like Cox is doing), or lease capacity from existing carriers in the NY Metro market. "We haven't made those decisions, but the latter outcome would be a less capital-intensive, higher-return business," stated Rutledge.