Cablevision (s CVC), the Bethpage, N.Y.-based cable operator, has quietly soft-launched a new automated sign-in process that allows its customers to log into its Wi-Fi cloud that covers many busy Long Island and New York City venues such as Madison Square Gardens, Radio City Music Hall and Long Island MacArthur Airport. (The network also serves southern Connecticut, northern and central New Jersey and Westchester, N.Y.) Such features are dramatically changing broadband usage behavior. Cablevision launched the Optimum Wi-Fi network in September 2008, and it’s going to cost a total of $300 million to build out.
The automatic sign-in feature allows customers to automatically sign onto the Optimum Wi-Fi cloud whenever the network is within range of a Wi-Fi device. The sign-in process eliminates the need to enter a user ID and passwords. Cablevision developed this feature in-house, and it’s currently available on laptops, Apple’s (s aapl) iPod touch, the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. The automated sign-in has boosted usage of the service: Average weekly sessions have gone up from around 200,000 in early November 2009 to more than 300,000 per week on average today.
Here are some interesting facts about Cablevision’s Optimum Wi-Fi network:
- It averages 300,000 sessions per week.
- Cablevision customers average more than 4 million minutes a day online over Optimum Wi-Fi.
The growing usage of Cablevision’s Wi-Fi cloud is yet more proof that Wi-Fi can become a critical part of the wireless broadband infrastructure. Reports show that increased sales of smartphones are boosting Wi-Fi hotspot use.
Handhelds accounted for 35 percent of all hotspot connections in 2009, up from 20 percent in 2008, according to In-Stat, a research firm. AT&T (s T) has been having a lot of trouble with its 3G network, and it makes perfect sense for it to do a deal with Cablevision, where iPhone users automatically switch to the Cablevision Wi-Fi network.