Cablevision Sues Verizon Over WiFi Ads

Just days after Cablevision Systems introduced Freewheel, a WiFi-only voice, text and data product for smartphones, the operator said it has filed a suit against Verizon Communications that calls for the telco to put a halt to ads that, the MSO alleges, make “false, misleading and deceptive advertising claims about WiFi service.”

In exhibits tied to the complaint, Cablevision cites several Verizon ads claiming that FiOS has “the fastest WiFi available from any provider, period.”

Cablevision  is filing the suit in federal court for the Eastern District of New York, and it comes a few months after Verizon launched the FiOS Quantum Gateway, a device equipped with 802.11ac WiFi, initially offering it for $149, or for lease for $6.99 per month.  Verizon is currently marketing it for $199.99 outright, and leasing it for $9.99 per month.

“Verizon’s claim that it has faster WiFi than Cablevision is false, deceptive and designed to mislead consumers,” Cablevision said in a statement. “Verizon has no public WiFi network. In addition, Verizon’s in-home routers are not faster than Optimum Smart Routers and cost Verizon customers hundreds of dollars while Optimum’s are free. It is not a coincidence that Verizon is making false WiFi claims just as Cablevision is introducing its all-WiFi Freewheel phone, which will allow consumers to avoid Verizon’s data caps and excessive data overage fees.”

Update: A Verizon spokesperson shot back with this statement: "We have not the seen the lawsuit but this is a boldface ploy to promote Cablevision’s latest wireless gambit. A third party has tested and validated the FiOS Quantum Gateway Router. It offers the fastest in-home Wi-Fi available from any provider. As usual, Cablevision is confusing consumers by using apples to oranges comparisons, in this case of in-home and public Wi-Fi.”

Cablevision noted that it provides in-home “Smart Routers” for free and operates a WiFi network spanning 1.1 million access points, comprised of a mix of in-home and publicly accessible hotspots. Cablevision’s Freewheel product, introduced on Monday (January 26) and to become available online early next month, will cost $29.95 per month for non-Cablevision high-speed data customers and $9.95 per month for the company’s current broadband subscribers. Early on, Freewheel will be offered on the Motorola Moto G for a discounted rate of $99.95.

The WiFi lawsuit is one of several ad-related entanglements between the two competitors. Of recent note, the companies battled over ads touting the recording capabilities of the telco’s new FiOS Quantum TV offering.