Cablevision, Comcast, TWC Hook Up On Wi-Fi

Cablevision Systems, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced reciprocal agreements Thursday 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.

Verizon Communications, 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, and 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 demand 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 one 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.