05/21/2012 01:02 pm ET Updated May 20, 2013

'CableWiFi': U.S. Cable Companies Combine Wi-Fi Networks To Create 50,000 Hotspots

Five major U.S. cable companies have joined forces to create a giant WiFi network with more than 50,000 hotspots across the nation. The joint effort has been dubbed "CableWiFi."

Free WiFi is a hot commodity for those whose gadgets aren't 3G or 4G ready, and for those who don't have personal hotspot devices. However, use of this massive WiFi network will come at a price. The cost? You must subscribe to Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications or Time Warner Cable service.

CableWiFi makes hotspots available to subscribers when traveling outside their home markets. The service has already been implemented in New York City and central Florida and the CableWiFi network will be added to each cable company's branded WiFi hotspots within the next month.

"We believe that Wi-Fi is a superior approach to mobile data, and that cable providers are best positioned to build the highest-capacity national network offering customers fast and reliable Internet connections when away from their home or business broadband service," Kristin Dolan, Cablevision’s senior executive vice president of product management and marketing, said in a statement.

With 50,000 hotspots, the CableWiFi network will surpass the capabilities of mobile companies; AT&T currently offers about 29,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, while Verizon's coverage encompasses around 5,000 locations.

Though this is the largest WiFi-sharing deal to date, it is still limited by the reach of each cable company's home network; hotspots will be available within each of the five cable network regions -- in New York City and the surrounding tri-state area, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando and Philadelphia.

Other countries have also labored to provide widespread WiFi in major cities. Spanish company Via Inteligente recently introduced iPavement, which embeds WiFi technology into street pavement, and is currently testing the system in Madrid.

U.S. web users may be far from enjoying universal WiFi access country wide, but CableWiFi offers a big step in that direction.



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