Although AT&T has had a consumer electronics presence going back to forever when the then-monopoly sold outrageously overpriced phones to its customers, service providers on the cable side have not gotten into the CE business in a significant way. But that’s changing in New York where Cablevision has an e-commerce site and is selling CE equipment for use with its services.

At its OptimumStore.com, Cablevision sells CE products that complement its iO TV, Optimum Voice and Optimum Online services. Yesterday, the provider announced it was selling Hewlett-Packard’s lightweight, WiFi-ready Mini Netbooks for use with Optimum WiFi.

"We are the only cable operator that has an e-commerce portal like OptimumStore," said Gemma Toner, SVP of marketing and business development for Cablevision. "Our strategy is we want to make sure our customers get the most from the services we provide. If you look at Optimum store, it’s fairly specific in product categories – products that enable consumers to get more from our services."

Toner said the partnership with HP is new. Other products sold on the OptimumStore site range from high-definition (HD) TVs from LG, GPS Navigation devices from Pioneer, and DECT 6.0 cordless phones from V-Tech.

Comcast recently announced it was trialing a DECT 6.0 cordless phone named "HomePoint" in one of its Florida systems. But the phone is connected directly to Comcast’s Digital Voice service and is not available on a dedicated e-commerce portal (For more, click here).

Cablevision plans to expand its HP product selection in the future with an array of WiFi gear, including wireless routers, network cards and 1 Gigabit NIC cards.

Toner said subscribers have learned about OptimumStore from advertisements on Optimum.net where online customers go to check their e-mail. The provider has also run TV ads and sent e-mails directly to its customers to tell them about the e-commerce site.

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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The FCC’s $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program kicked off with a bang Wednesday, and some 825 providers sat ready to answer consumer questions and get folks signed up for subsidies. Thus far, all has gone to plan and consumer interest is coming in either consistent with or in excess of providers’ early predictions.

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