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Cablevision to Shut Down OMGfast

MSO To Pull the Plug on Fixed Wireless Service by Late Summer 7/23/2013 12:49 PM Eastern

Cablevision Systems’ fixed wireless broadband and voice experiment in Florida has run its course.

The MSO confirmed Tuesday that the service, branded as OMGfast and once pitched by NFL hall-of-famer Joe Namath and his daughter, Jessica, will be shutting down.

“OMGfast will be discontinuing its voice and broadband services,” a Cablevision spokeswoman said via email. “We are in the process of notifying existing customers so they can identify alternative services.”

Cablevision didn’t give a reason for the decision or specify when OMGfast will be winding down, but it’s expected that the task will be complete by late summer. According to a recorded message on the OMGfast customer line, service will be discountinued in 19 Florida markets on or after Aug. 19, including Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Miami Gardens, and Miramar.

Cablevision’s decision comes about a month after OMGfast laid off an undisclosed number of employees at its headquarters in Pompano Beach, Fla.

OMGfast delivers Internet speeds up to 50 Mbps in Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties using Multichannel Video and Data Distribution (MVDDS) spectrum and gear affixed to area cell towers. OMGfast has not disclosed any recent subscriber figures, but it had about 3,000 customers in February 2013. Comcast and AT&T are among the broadband ISPs that compete with OMGFast in Florida.

Cablevision’s decision to shut down OMGfast is not a huge surprise as it comes roughly nine months after the MSO agreed to sell its 500MHz of MVDDS licensed covering 150 million people in 45 metro U.S. areas, including New York, Los Angeles and Boston, to Dish Network for $80 million as part of a $700 million settlement of a legal spat linked to the defunct Voom HD service.

Last October, when the Dish-Cablevision settlement was announced, Craig Moffett, then an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein (he has since started his own firm, Moffett Research), suggested in a research note that OMGFast was developed merely to “meet minimum buildout requirements associated with the licenses, and did not signal an intent to overbuild its cable peers.” Cablevision originally acquired the MVDDS licenses in a 2004 FCC auction via a subsidiary, with a requirement that it develop a “substantial service” using that spectrum by September 2014.

September