Hey, Cablevision made Verizon blink: The Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon will offers its broadband customers free Wi-Fi hotspot access, partnering with Boingo Wireless to do so. The Journal notes the deal isn't set, and Verizon could offer just regional access instead of national hotspot service. The service could launch by summer.
Boingo typically charges $22/mo for unlimited North American access with a 3-month introductory price of $10/mo. Update: Boingo has changed its unlimited North American price to a $10/mo on an ongoing basis; it's no longer just a promotional price.
A Boingo spokesperson declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal's account, but noted that the company works with many networks to grow its aggregated footprint, and, in turn, provides access to its footprint to some of those networks.
It's not just Cablevision pushing on Wi-Fi, of course, as Cablevision and Verizon overlap just in a (lucrative) part of Verizon's market in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Cablevision has been receiving high marks for its $300m project to put outdoor Wi-Fi all over its subscriber area, with exclusive and free access to its cable broadband customers. The company just flipped the switch on its connection promise from 1.5 Mbps to 3 Mbps.
No, it's also AT&T, which doesn't overlap Verizon at all for landline and broadband service as former reconstituted Baby Bells with discrete installed wire bases. Rather, AT&T's free Wi-Fi for iPhone and BlackBerry users may be more competition for Verizon Wireless: get an iPhone and you have the still-coolest phone coupled with free Wi-Fi. Buy the best Verizon smartphone, and you're still hunting for third-party, for-fee Wi-Fi service. (AT&T also offers pretty much all its broadband subscribers free Wi-Fi, too, from those subscribing to the cheapest DSL package up to the fastest U-Verse fiber-backed option, as well as its 3G LaptopConnect customers. For 3G customers, Wi-Fi has no limits where 3G is 5 GB/mo, so it's a good pairing.)
And Cablevision put some pressure on Verizon's broadband pricing by offering 101 Mbps/15 Mbps cable broadband for a hair under $100 per month, where Verizon charges $140/mo for half that speed. Verizon said that Cablevision's high data rate is a "parlor trick," and claims that a single 101 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 customer would suck performance out of all other subscribers in the same neighborhood. Om Malik does a nice job analyzing the truth and fiction of Cablevision's offer and Verizon's slap.
Nonetheless, Verizon now seems to be behind the times, even if the company's fiber-to-the-home architecture should allow speeds far greater than cable's without any slowdown among service in the same neighborhood. (DOCSIS 3.0 allows multi-channel bonding, and there will certainly be issues about how many channels are available in a given cluster of broadband users in a neighborhood. Fiber to the home's issue is entirely about how much backhaul is available, which should be a non-issue with the GPON architecture back to the network core.)
And Cablevision puts pricing pressure on Verizon for the early adopters/high bandwidth eaters in the market. Verizon's next tier down from 50 Mpbs/20 Mbps at $150 per month is $65/month for 20 Mbps/20 Mbps. Cablevision's pricing for cheaper tiers is hard to figure out--the company offers promotional prices and bundles that disguise the price after the first 12 months. It appears to be $30 per month for 12 months for up to 20 Mbps.