Comcast, Cox, Time Warner partner on metro Wi-Fi

Comcast, Cox, Time Warner partner on metro Wi-Fi

Summary: Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable partner on free-if-you're-a-customer wireless under the name "CableWifi."


Five U.S. cable giants -- Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable -- announced this morning that they will allow each other's high-speed Internet customers to access their metro Wi-Fi networks.

The effort extends a similar agreement in 2010 between Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable for their customers in Connecticut, New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

About 50,000 hotspots will carry the network name "CableWiFi" and allow cable customers to access wireless broadband Internet outside their home markets. For example, Cablevision customers in New York City will be able to use Bright House's network in central Florida, and vice-versa.

(Why is there almost no coverage in Manhattan, per the map above? I have no idea.)

The CableWiFi branding will be added by each cable company over the "next few months."

And thus begins a battle between cable providers and wireless carriers over customers' data: the cable companies insist that Wi-Fi  -- theirs, naturally -- is "a superior approach to mobile data."

But it's not all hostile. Comcast's Wi-Fi efforts have been conducted in partnership with Verizon Wireless, for example; it's probably not a bad idea to ease some of the bandwidth burden by letting paying customers spill over onto the cable companies' network -- after all, if you can access either, you've already paid for that service, whether or not you've used data.

The question is whether or not it will work as intended. For example, I'm writing this from Paris, France where I have access to the FreeWifi network; I've spent the last 48 hours banging my head against the proverbial wall as my mobile devices try, and fail, to connect to it. (Thank God for the hardwired CBSi France office.)

In sum, the new U.S. network knits together the metro areas of New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Tampa and Orlando. The cable companies say they plan to continue to grow the number of WiFi hotspots, which are generally located in high-traffic areas, and "expand into several additional cities."

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Wi-Fi

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Metro Wi-Fi

    Interesting Article. I wish Verizon Fios would join or create it's own "Metro Wi-Fi". Since my monthly bill is over $150 a month for phone, HD-TV and Internet, the ability to use my laptop anywhere the area where I livewithout additional charges would be welcommed.
  • Manhattan - Early Adopter syndrome?

    For some things it's actually better to be out in the boondocks. Manhattan, with its density, is likely an early adopter of new technologies. But then as the technology matures, the remote locations get the newer, improved technologies as an initial service, while the costs of upgrading the early adopters interferes with availability.

    Living in San Jose CA for many years, I was continually frustrated by poor cable TV technology (I've heard that Gill Cable in the 70s was the first cable TV system to go live) and spotty cell coverage, much worse than one would ever expect from such a high technology center.
  • one day ...

    Wireless internet will be free for all. Mark my words
    Scarface Claw
  • Our only hope for the future is ubiquitous WiFi

    The bandwidth requirements of our personal devices continues to grow while wireless companies continue limiting our data usage more and more. The frustrations and expense of trying to do any significant data transfers over cellular are just becoming insane. The cable companies could easily put the wireless carriers out of business by offering flat fee WiFi everywhere with no data caps. In fact, VOIP might even replace cellular for voice if WiFi is truly everywhere. The wireless companies have been bending us over for far too long. If I could use my devices everywhere for a flat fee regardless of usage, I'd be happy to dump both AT&T and Verizon. They've never had my back, so good riddance to both.