Cablers Share Hotspots

The three biggest cable operators
in the New York
metro area have joined forces on
wireless to fight Verizon Communications.

Cablevision Systems, Comcast and Time Warner
Cable announced reciprocal agreements last week to
let their broadband subscribers access any of the operators’
Wi-Fi hotspots across the New York metro area.

According to the cable companies, no money is
changing hands as part of the agreement. As of April
15, authentication for all three operators is present
on every access point.

The idea is to create a roaming “canopy” of coverage,
so that cable customers can get access even if
they’re not in their provider’s footprint.

Verizon, the primary telco in the market, offers
access to thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots nationwide,
through a deal with Boingo Wireless, to FiOS Internet
users who subscribe to a plan with download
speeds up to 20 Mbps or higher.

Cablevision began building out Wi-Fi access
points in 2008, and now operates thousands of Optimum
Wi-Fi locations in New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut. The MSO had previously estimated the
cost of the buildout to be about $330 million over
two years.

Cablevision and Comcast already had such a reciprocal
agreement in place, covering part of Comcast’s
New Jersey footprint and its Wi-Fi access
points at certain NJ Transit rail stations.

For its part, TWC last month launched Wi-Fi service
in seven New York City parks and eight commuter-
rail platforms on the Long Island Railroad; it
had already put a system in place to cross-honor access
with Cablevision.

“This agreement
— the first
of its kind and, we
believe, the first of
many — combines
the reach and the
value of our respective Wi-Fi
deployments and
delivers fast and
free wireless Internet
access that
stretches across
the market, at a
time when consumer
for mobile data is
exploding,” John
Bickham, Cablevision’s
president of
cable and communications, said in a statement.

Added Cathy Avgiris, Comcast senior vice president
and general manager of communications and
data services, “Our customers are purchasing devices
that have Wi-Fi built into them and increasingly
want wireless broadband access anytime, anywhere.

With this partnership, we’re excited to offer a great
in-home and on-the-go Internet experience.”

“This unique partnership is a win-win for our 1 million
Road Runner customers in the NYC metro area,
adding another dimension of value and convenience,”
said Howard Szarfarc, executive vice president of Time
Warner Cable’s New York City region.