Cablevision Systems Corp. is becoming a window to cable's future as other operators continue to borrow from its wireless broadband playbook.
The latest is Time Warner Cable Inc., which is building a $15 million Wi-Fi network in Los Angeles that will be much larger than its deployment in New York City, where it's set up to share access with Cablevision Systems Corp. and Cablevision customers. (See MSO WiFi: Roam (If You Want To).)
Like Cablevision, TW Cable will let its subscribers use the Wi-Fi network for free. But, in a varied approach, TW Cable will also help pay for the buildout by letting non-subscribers jump on -- for $2.95 per hour, $6.95 per day, $19.95 per week, or $49.95 per month.
TW Cable says its Wi-Fi network will reach more than 40 square miles of southern California, covering areas such as Venice Beach, West Hollywood, downtown L.A., Santa Ana and Newport Beach. A spokesman wouldn't say when TW Cable expected to complete the deployment but confirmed that more Wi-Fi buildouts are planned.
In another Cablevision-esque move, TW Cable is tying the Wi-Fi investment to an expansion of its Docsis 3.0 network, noting that its new 50Mbit/s D3 tier is now offered in about half its homes passed in Southern California. The MSO expects to finish its wideband rollout there by the end of next year.
Why this matters
TW Cable's heavier investment in Wi-Fi is a good sign for Cisco Systems Inc., BelAir Networks Inc. and other vendors that have developed WiMax access points tailored to work on cable plants. Update: TW Cable confirmed that they're using BelAir gear for the Los Angeles deployment.
But questions continue to linger about TW Cable's overall wireless broadband strategy.
The MSO has publicly expressed disappointment with the results it's getting with the WiMax product it's selling through its Clearwire LLC partnership, leading to rumors that TW Cable and other MSOs may invest more in Clearwire or buy it outright to help spark an aggressive LTE play.
TW Cable, which has been noncommittal about its Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum holdings, has also been linked to talks with LightSquared about potential partnership scenarios.
Read more about what cable's doing (and might be doing) with Wi-Fi, WiMax and other wireless technologies.
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable