Cablevision, Verizon Set to Battle for the Big Apple

Carl Weinschenk

Two stories are neatly juxtaposed. One involves Cablevision's evolving plan to provide Wi-Fi service to its footprint, primarily on the Long Island area of New York. The other describes snags in a government plan to serve essentially the same area. Together, they provide interesting input on the situation on the ground in the vital New York City area.


Newsday says Cablevision plans to spend $300 million on its project. It kicked off the project by investing $20 million in May and June. The company wouldn't say which region will get service first. The story also said Cablevision seemed to throw down the gauntlet to Verizon by saying that the type of network it is building, if replicated elsewhere, might make cellular unnecessary. Verizon dismissed the statement as "silly."


Things are not so rosy for the municipal E-Path project on the Island. Wi-Fi Networking News' Glenn Fleishman, working from another Newsday story, says the municipal project "seemed doomed" from its inception. He provides a list of problems and adds one that might prove to be the final straw: The project doesn't qualify as a telecommunication initiative, so the company must pay $50 annually for each pole attachment instead of $10. Cablevision not only qualifies for the lower rate, but also can power the gear from existing infrastructure.


So far, Cablevision is thriving, at least according to the company's second-quarter earnings, reported on here at IP Democracy. The company, despite pressure from Verizon, added 6,000 basic cable subscribers, 120,000 digital cable subscribers and 51,000 new high-speed data subscribers. The Optimum Voice service also advanced with 81,000 new customers during the quarter. The digital gains dwarfed both the first and the year-ago quarters, though the high-speed data and telephone gains were less than the first quarter and about equal to the year-ago quarter.


Now that the municipal competition seems to be all but out of the way, the sense is that the die is cast for a showdown between Cablevision and Verizon. Indeed, during July the telco introduced FiOS to the New York City market -- despite an under-reported safety issue blogged about at Pulp Network. Though it is only one market, the winner in New York, and the industry sector it represents, will have tremendous advantage going forward.

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