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Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club

Mari Silbey
8/27/2013

Joining its cable brethren, Cox Communications Inc. is now offering free WiFi access to its broadband customers at nearly 150,000 hotspots across the US.

More than a year after it enlisted in the landmark cable WiFi alliance, Cox officially opened up access this week to free, out-of-region WiFi for subscribers to its Preferred, Premier, and Ultimate High Speed Internet tiers. Users can sign on to hotspots with the "CableWiFi" identifier using their Cox login credentials. (See Cable WiFi on a Hot Streak.)

Cox customers now have access to WiFi hotspots in regions served by three other members of the club -- Comcast Corp., Cablevision Systems Corp., and Bright House Networks. Time Warner Cable Inc. is the fifth member of the WiFi club, and a Cox spokesperson said he expects TWC hotspots to be integrated into the Cox service before the end of the year. Charter Communications Inc. is the only top-five US MSO not participating in the WiFi alliance yet. (See Charter Goes Own Way on WiFi.)

Current "CableWiFi" locations open to Cox subscribers include areas of metro Washington D.C.; Boston; Richmond, Va., Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Time Warner Cable would add hotspots in Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Cable companies have numerous reasons for wanting to add WiFi access to their service portfolios. Not only does free WiFi offer customers more incentive to pay the monthly cable bill, it's also a brand extension for operators outside the customer's home. Cable operators are looking at monetizing new hotspots as well, in part by offering paid access to non-subscribers. (See Cisco 'Heats' Up Hotspots.)

But there's a cost side to the equation too. In addition to the capital expense of installing new WiFi access points, there's also the issue of increased network traffic from users who switch to WiFi on mobile devices to avoid costlier mobile broadband services.

At the Cable Show, Cox CTO Kevin Hart told Light Reading that new WiFi hotspots affect network planning strategies. With WiFi roaming agreements in place, operators now have to account for traffic from out-of-region cable customers, in addition to their own subscribers.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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albreznick
albreznick
8/29/2013 | 12:55:28 PM
Re: Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club
Good point, rg. It would be great to get the big Canadian MSOs on-board too. I haven't heard anything from the Rogers, Shaws, and Videotrons of the world up here yet. But it certainly would make sense. I think we'll pursue that idea with them.  
regulatorguy
regulatorguy
8/28/2013 | 7:51:34 PM
Re: Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club
What about our friends in the Great White North?  I'm frequently up in Canada and it would make things easier if Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Videotron, etc. were to join Cable WiFi ... though I suppose regulatory and other issues may be considerable.
albreznick
albreznick
8/28/2013 | 4:49:12 PM
Re: Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club
Great question, regulator guy. I don't know the answer for sure. But i bet they are deploying at least a few hotspots, albeit quietly. I think that's a good subject for a followup story. Does anybody out there know what the MSOs below Bright House in size are dong?  
regulatorguy
regulatorguy
8/28/2013 | 4:18:04 PM
Re: Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club
What about the mid-tier MSOs like Suddenlink and Mediacom?  Do they have enough hotspots to warrant reciprocity from the big dogs?  Actually, are they deploying hotspots?
albreznick
albreznick
8/27/2013 | 12:43:27 PM
Cox Joins Cable WiFi Club
Good ro see Cox gear up on the WiFi front. I've been wondering when they would join the rest. Now it will be interesting to see how fast they deploy their own hotspots. I'm also curious about which other MSOs will join the national alliance. Any votes out there on who will be next? 
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