The cable industry’s dance around wireless continued today as a consortium of providers announced plans to partner on the deployment of 50,000 “metro Wi-Fi” hot spots under the “CableWiFi” brand. The service will allow customers of Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable to access the Wi-Fi networks when roaming outside of their home cable provider’s footprint.
It should be noted that a handful of these cable companies are also currently in the process of trying to sell their 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum holdings to Verizon Wireless. As part of that deal, the cable providers would be able to package Verizon Wireless services into a bundled offering.
The companies explained that when traveling outside their home markets, current cable Internet subscribers can look for the “CableWiFi” network and through a sign-on process connect using the same credentials as when accessing their providers’ Wi-Fi networks. The cable companies added that they are also looking to enable a auto-connect feature that will allow for quicker connections to the Wi-Fi networks.
Bright House and Cablevision are the first to turn on their offering, having launched the shared hot spot service in New York City and central Florida. Additional nodes that will eventually be part of the shared offering are currently deployed across Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The companies said they plan to add hot spot locations across additional markets and include both indoor and outdoor locations.
Cablevision, Comcast and TWC partnered in early 2010 on deployments across portions of New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Connecticut.
The public Wi-Fi space has had a checkered history as attempts to commercialize the service have showed little promise. The more successful deployments have surrounded either wireless carrier’s looking to provide increased capacity in densly populated area or for data offload from congested cellular networks, or by commercial entities offering free Wi-Fi to lure consumers into their locations.
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