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TWC, Cox, Bright House, Comcast team up for Wi-Fi roaming

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 11:56am
Mike Robuck

Subscribers from Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cablevision and Cox Communications will be able to log in to each other’s Wi-Fi hotspots, thanks to a new roaming agreement.

The deal among five of the top six largest cable operators in the nation will give their respective subscribers access to more than 50,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.

“Mobility is an increasingly important part of our Xfinity services product roadmap,” said Dave Watson, chief operating officer of Comcast Cable. “Wi-Fi 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.”

The roaming agreement is similar to the one that Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Cablevision inked a few years ago to share Wi-Fi hotspots in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Connecticut.

In the largest roaming agreement to date, the participating cable operators currently offer Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi hotspots and expand into several additional cities.

The shared network has both indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots located in popular, high-traffic locations, such as shopping districts, cafes, malls, arenas, restaurants, parks and beaches. Subscribers will be able to find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots by visiting the Wi-Fi homepage of their current cable provider or by going to the CableWiFi site.

In the past, cable operator customers that were included in roaming agreements had to sign on to their specific Wi-Fi network name to access another hotspot that was out of their service area. With the new roaming agreement, Wi-Fi users use a new network name, CableWiFi, when they are outside of their home markets.

The first implementation of the new roaming agreement was already completed as Bright House Networks and Cablevision launched CableWiFi alongside their branded Wi-Fi networks in the New York City area and central Florida areas earlier this month. Over the next few months, the CableWiFi network name will be added by each of the cable companies to their branded Wi-Fi hotspots.

“This effort adds great value to our high-speed Internet customers by providing free wireless Internet access on all of their Wi-Fi-enabled devices in our markets and additional areas across the country,” said Nomi Bergman, president of Bright House Networks.

When traveling outside of their home markets, high-speed Internet subscribers of the participating companies will look for the CableWiFi network, and through a simple sign-on process, connect using the same credentials as when accessing their providers’ Wi-Fi networks. In the coming months, users will be able to have their devices auto-connect to the Internet when located in any of the CableWiFi hotspots. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision previously launched Wi-Fi finder apps to help their subscribers stay connected as they move from one hotspot to another.

As for Cablevision’s Bresnan subscribers, customers who have purchased Optimum high-speed Internet and have an Optimum ID/password can use it to access any of the cable operator’s Optimum WiFi hotspots, as well as those of the other companies participating in today’s roaming agreement.

Wi-Fi services can help reduce a cable operator’s churn for their data services, and eventually could lead to new revenue-generating opportunities such as advertising.

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