Cable companies offer more free Wi-Fi to customers

John Moe May 21, 2012

Five cable companies: Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision, and Bright House Networks will offer subscribers a chance to log on to Wi-Fi coverage at hot spots around the country operated by one another. Time Warner will also offer a pay-as-you-go option for non-customers. The networks will appear to customers as “Cable Wi-Fi”.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The roaming partnership comes as the cable industry is seeking to differentiate its offerings from rival phone and satellite companies—and when the entire pay-TV industry is trying to keep up with consumers watching greater amounts of video on mobile devices.
“Mobility is an increasingly important part of Comcast’s product road map, said Dave Watson, chief operating officer of Comcast, in the joint statement released by the cable operators Monday. “Wi-Fi technology, coupled with our agreements with Verizon Wireless, are two significant ways we are executing on our strategy.”

Now, getting a good Wi-Fi signal when you’re out and about is nice and cable companies are trying to find new ways to keep you subscribing instead of streaming everything. But that’s not all that’s going on here.

CNET’s Maggie Reardon points out:

Wi-Fi isn’t the only wireless strategy that these companies have tried. These companies formed a joint venture several years ago to bid on wireless spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission’s Advanced Wireless Spectrum auction in 2006. The joint venture known as Spectrum Co. ended up buying more than 20MHz of wireless spectrum. Cox Communications was the only company that ever tried to do something with the wireless spectrum.

Cox went a ways down the road toward launching its own wireless network before abandoning those plans. It then joined the other cable companies in agreeing to sell that spectrum to Verizon, a deal that’s still being kicked around by the FCC.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.