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May 01, 2009

Free WiFi from Verizon?

By Rich Tehrani
CEO, Technology Marketing Corporation

As I’ve mentioned before, WiFi is becoming a critical part of the carrier strategy and must be included in a bundle of products ranging from voice to wired broadband to TV.
AT&T – a company should fear rival Verizon as rumors swirl that the company is eyeing a plan to carry the iPhone 3G also – already offers free WiFi to customers. So does Cablevision, which this week unveiled the nation’s fastest Internet service – a service that could be bundled with some sort of triple-play offering.
Now it seems Verizon (News - Alert) is jumping on the bandwagon by potentially partnering with Boingo.
Remember that AT&T purchased Wayport so that is one less provider Verizon can work with.
Availability of free Cablevision WiFi is getting more and more play... As you may recall I was recently interviewed by BusinessWeek regarding Optimum WiFi and today, David Pogue of the New York Times mentioned the service as well and pointed out this nifty coverage map:
The map (note the darkened areas) directs users to Cablevision’s Optimum-brand WiFi community zones in shopping centers, on main streets and train platforms, in parks, marinas, and at sports fields.
Here’s what happens when I enter TMC’s (News - Alert) headquarters in Norwalk, Conn. (it appears we’re pretty “well-connected” here, as far as Optimum WiFi goes):
It seems WiFi truly is becoming a strong competitor to WiMAX (News - Alert) in many instances. We have learned from the past that every time we tried to kill off Ethernet, it kept evolving and getting stronger. WiFi is doing the same and just as every device had an Ethernet port in the past making the standard that much stronger, so many wireless devices from laptops to picture frames and smart phones have embedded WiFi as well.
The question becomes, how does the proliferation of free or bundled WiFi change adoption levels of LTE (News - Alert)? And what about 3G? So far there doesn't seem to be a negative effect and perhaps this is because once you get used to surfing on the go, you want to do it in areas WiFi just doesn't reach.

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO (News - Alert)). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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