The big cable companies know that if they want to stay relevant inthe wireless market, they can't do it on their own. And that's a big reason why Bright House Networks, Cablevision,Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable said today thatthey'll allow each other's customers to have access to all their50,000+ Wi-Fi hotspots around the country. The Wi-Fi hotspots willall run under the network name "CableWiFi" to make it easier forsubscribers to know that they have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot in thearea. The companies say that they've implemented the programalready in New York City and in parts of central Florida, and thatmore CableWiFi hotspots in Los Angeles and Philadelphia are due tobe hooked up in the coming months. RELATED: How Passpoint could make Wi-Fi hotspots more like cellular dataservices MORE ON CABLE'S WI-FI STRATEGY: Verizon offers to sell some 700MHz spectrum in olive branch togovernment "We believe that Wi-Fi is a superior approach to mobile data, andthat cable providers are best positioned to build thehighest-capacity national network offering customers fast andreliable Internet connections when away from their home or businessbroadband service," said Kristin Dolan, Cablevision's seniorexecutive vice president of product management and marketing."We've built an extensive Wi-Fi network in our own service area,and see real value and potential in other leading providers joiningwith us to extend that connectivity to major markets across thecountry." The new hotspot-sharing agreement announced is similar to thevision that the Wi-Fi Alliance has outlined for its CertifiedPasspoint initiative, which essentially creates a database of Wi-Fihotspots and allows users to access any in their area that takepart in the program. |
What's more, any hotspots that take part inPasspoint will allow users to connect without entering in any loginor billing information since the program supports SubscriberIdentity Module (SIM)-based authentication that cellular networkscurrently use to grant users seamless handoffs between cell sites.This also means that carriers can forge Wi-Fi roaming agreementswith one another that could, for instance, give AT&Tsubscribers access to Verizon hotspots without having to enter inany information or manually connect to different networks. The cable companies' attempt to coordinate a joint Wi-Fi strategymirrors their recent decision by Comcast, Time Warner and BrightHouse to sell Verizon 122 AWS spectrum licenses that cover 259million points of presence for $3.6 billion. Verizon subsequentlyworked out a similar deal with Cox Communications involving $315million in licenses for 20MHz of AWS spectrum. Taken together, itseems as though U.S.
cable companies are banding together to createa unified wireless policy that will help them stay relevant in thecoming era of ubiquitous LTE wireless coverage. Brad Reed covers both Google and the wireless industry for NetworkWorld. Be sure to check out his blog, Google Reed-er, and followhim on Twitter at @bwreednww. Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.
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