Is free Wi-Fi the next big thing for broadband providers? Cablevision's success says so.

A few months ago, I reported on Cablevision rolling out free Wi-Fi for its subscribers in Long Island as a way to stem the flow of customers toward cellular broadband providers. It sounded like a smart idea at the time, but a new report suggests that it was a really smart move for Cablevision.

A few months ago, I reported on Cablevision rolling out free Wi-Fi for its subscribers in Long Island as a way to stem the flow of customers toward cellular broadband providers. It sounded like a smart idea at the time, but a new report suggests that it was a really smart move for Cablevision.

According to telecommunications market research firm Dell'Oro Group, Cablevision gained a whopping 70 percent more subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2008 than it did in the previous quarter, while the overall market declined 10 percent. Dell'Oro attributes the subscriber growth in large part to the free Wi-Fi. It's little surprise, then, that Comcast has since started its own free Wi-Fi trial for subscribers in northern New Jersey.

Is free Wi-Fi in your local area (including on your commute) a feature that would influence your decision on broadband providing, or keep you from switching providers? Let us know the our TalkBack section.

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