Cablevision developing WiFi/cellular phone

Cablevision said it is testing a mobile phone that can switch between its WiFi network and a cellular network. The company did not say what cellular company or companies it is partnering with.

Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge disclosed the trials during the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call, and said that when a user is on the MSO's WiFi network the phone will run over WiFi and then it will switch to a cellular network outside of the company's footprint. The company offers free WiFi service to its customers in the New York metropolitan area.

"The test is so far proving to be good and consistent with our view of what is possible, and gives us some hope that we will be able to launch additional products using the WiFi network that will look like what some people think of as cellular telephone," he said. Rutledge added that Cablevision has not made any decision as to whether it wants to build its own cellular network or lease capacity, but that the latter would be "a less capital-intensive, higher-return business."

Potential partners for Cablevision include T-Mobile USA, which already offers UMA-enabled devices that allow customers to make calls over WiFi. Another partner could be Sprint Nextel, which is the majority owner of Clearwire, which counts Comcast and Time Warner Cable as its wholesale partners. Cox Communications also is riding on Sprint's network for its test cellular markets, and will use Sprint as a national roaming partner when it launches its own 3G wireless network on its AWS spectrum this month. 

For more:
- see this AP article

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