Cablevision rolls out muni Wi-Fi in Long Island, NY

New York triple-play telecommunications provider Cablevision announced that it has completed the initial phase of its municipal Wi-Fi coverage for the Nassau and Suffolk county areas in Long Island.

The company first announced its Optimum Wi-Fi plans in May, with a two-year deployment schedule that will eventually comprise much of the New York tri-state area. This leg of the rollout appears to have been designed around the Long Island Railroad system, with station stops along a number of lines receiving connectivity first. Cablevision had previously set up "Wi-Fi Community Zones" in the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson ferry stations, and also in commercial areas Sag Harbor, Northport and Huntington.

Cablevision is ranked among the top five cable companies in size, without much geographic expansion in its 35 years of existence. Its success has much to do with the extremely dense population in its service region. Long Island is one such area where Cablevision is firmly entrenched. However, in recent years Verizon has proven to be a strong rival, offering its FiOS triple play services to the same region. This overlapping coverage resulted in legal battles in 2006 over local programming rights.

And while Verizon Wireless customers could appreciate faster data speeds on Cablevision's Optimum Wi-Fi network, the company's real competitor is instead E-Path Communications, a Tampa, Florida company also attempting to assemble a Long Island muni-Wi-Fi project.

That company, however, doesn't appear to be providing much in the way of competition. Its project has faced numerous delays, most recently over how much it would have to pay the Long Island Power Authority for mounting its routers atop powerline poles.

Given the catastrophic history of municipal Wi-Fi deployments, Cablevision's undertaking has thus far been highly successful. Subscribers to Cablevision's Optimum Online high-speed Internet will be given access to the Optimum wireless routers with their existent user ID and are promised speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. BetaNews tests today in Port Washington and Hempstead, however, failed to locate a strong enough signal upon which to connect.

Cablevision has reportedly invested more than $20 million in building the network, and plans to spend at least $300 million to achieve its coverage goals.

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