Cablevision closer to launching Wi-Fi on trains

Four years after pitching the idea of installing Wi-Fi service on trains used by commuters in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) executives said Thursday that the MSO is closer to making it a reality.

"Wi-Fi on the trains is complicated," Tad Smith, Cablevision's president of local media, told analysts on the company's first-quarter earnings call. Smith is helping Cablevision reach agreements with New Jersey Transit and Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the Long Island Railroad and Metro North, which is used by commuters in Connecticut and New York suburbs such as Westchester.

"We are in active, productive, very positive conversations with the trains," Smith said, noting that he had hoped to have an announcement ready for Thursday's call. "I am optimistic for the future," he added.

Cablevision has installed more than 80,000 Wi-Fi access points throughout its footprint, including train stations. Adding Wi-Fi transmitters to the trains would give it another weapon in its battle for broadband subscribers with Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

Installing Wi-Fi on trains could also help Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), which have a roaming agreement with Cablevision that allow the top two MSOs to offer their subscribers access to Cablevision's hotspots.

When Cablevision submitted its proposal to the MTA in 2010, it said that it would cover all of the costs for adding its Wi-Fi network to the trains. The MSO had initially offered to launch Wi-Fi on trains within 12 months of its proposal.

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