Five major cable operators are teaming to provide each other's high-speed data customers reciprocal access to metro WiFi networks, totaling over 50,000 hotspots.
Under the banner "Cable WiFi," Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable will be able to access WiFi hotspots outside their home market.
The first implementation is already complet in metro New York and in central Florida where Cablevision and Bright House Networks respectively have launched "CableWiFi" alongside their branded WiFi networks in the aforementioned areas. Cablevision initiated its local WiFi play in 2008 and has invested some $330 million in its effort in the New York DMA, while Bright House announced early this year that it had deployed more than 2,000 WiFi acccess points across the Sunshine Stated with plans to double the number of hotspots by year-end.
Over the next few months, the CableWiFi service will be added by each of the cable operators to their branded WiFi hotspots.
This WiFi sharing initiative is the most inclusive to date among MSOs. In early 2010, Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable entered into an agreement allowing their customers in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Connecticut to access WiFi hotspots offered by each operator in these areas.
The quintet of cable operators currently offer more than 50,000 WiFi hotspots located in New York City and the surrounding tri-state area, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando, and Philadelphia. The operators plan to continue to grow the number of WiFi hotspots and expand into several additional cities. The network has both indoor and outdoor WiFi hotspots located in high-traffic locations, including shopping districts, cafes, malls, arenas, restaurants, parks and beaches. Subscribers will be able to find the nearest WiFi hotspots by visiting the WiFi homepage of their current cable provider or going to www.cablewifi.com.
When outside their home markets, high-speed Internet subscribers of the participating MSOs can look for the CableWiFi network and through a sign-on process connect using the same credentials as they do to access their local providers' WiFi services. In the months ahead, users will be able to have their devices auto-connect to the Internet when located in any of the Cable WiFi hotspots.
"This effort adds great value to our high speed Internet customers by providing free wireless Internet access on all of their WiFi enabled devices in our markets and additional areas across the country," said Nomi Bergman, president of Bright House Networks in announcing the endeavor.
Noted Kristin Dolan, Cablevision's senior executive vice president of product management and marketing: "We believe that WiFi is a superior approach to mobile data, and that cable providers are best positioned to build the highest-capacity national network offering customers fast and reliable Internet connections when away from their home or business broadband service. We've built an extensive WiFi network in our own service area, and see real value and potential in other leading providers joining with us to extend that connectivity to major markets across the country."
Dave Watson, chief operating officer of Comcast Cable also lauded the initiative and the flexibility it provides for subscribers: "Mobility is an increasingly important part of our Xfinity services product roadmap. WiFi technology, coupled with our agreements with Verizon Wireless, are two significant ways we are executing on our strategy to deliver the best in- and out-of-home communications experience for our customers."
Added Cox Communications COO Jill Campbell: "The way customers are using our service continues to evolve. This is a new area of opportunity that we need to explore."
Time Warner Cable president and COO Ro Marcus hailed the cable companies' collaboration: "We have long been the leading providers of high-speed internet services in our customers' homes. Through our rollout of WiFi and the benefits of this collaboration we greatly increase the value and reach of our high-speed internet service, providing access to broadband outside the home and in cities across the country."