Until mobile data services went through the roof, cable had limited interest in the wireless aspect of the so-called quad play. But now that mobile broadband has evolved into an extension of the home Internet connection, every major MSO has a wireless strategy.
Today, Comcast launched a trial Wi-Fi service in conjunction with Cablevision in New Jersey. This is a short-term step for Comcast, which has its sights set on WiMAX, but it offers several major advantages. With trial users able to access free Wi-Fi from local hotspots (mostly positioned at NJ railway stations), Comcast gains both a new customer retention strategy (Who wants to give up free Wi-Fi?) and a comfortable transition strategy for getting subscribers to think of cable for mobile broadband access. It is, after all, a reasonable leap to think about upgrading from free hotspots to subscription-based mobile broadband. I can see the ad campaign now: Like getting Internet while you wait for the train? Now you can take it with you.
As someone who lives not far from New Jersey, I’m thrilled with the new trial. Next time I head up to New York from the Trenton train station, I’ll definitely be giving it a try.