Cablevision has been able to stave off competition from Verizon's fiber-optic FIOS TV service because of its free WiFi offering, said one analyst after the company issued strong third-quarter earnings.
Cablevision earned $98.9 million, or 33 cents per share, for the third quarter, which was up from $30.9 million, or 10 cents per share, in 2008. The cable provider reported revenue growth of 4.9 percent for its telecommunications services division, which includes cable TV, phone and Internet services. Cablevision signed up 4 percent more new Internet customers and 10 percent more new phone customers during the quarter with total phone customers exceeding 2 million for the first time.
Verizon's entry into the New York market with FIOS TV hasn't hurt Cablevision yet, and Craig Moffett, senior analyst with Sanford Bernstein, said Cablevision's free WiFi offering is one reason why.
"Perhaps it's time to start giving Cablevision's free WiFi network some of the credit," Moffett said in a research note. "For all of its vaunted capabilities in wireless, free wireless broadband is something that Verizon Wireless simply can't match."
Cablevision offers free WiFi service to subscribers throughout its metro New York footprint. It's also looking to target New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority's commuter trains and stations with the service.
Meanwhile, Cablevision said its estimated $300 million cost to roll out WiFi is running 15 percent under budget.
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