If you travel, your high speed Internet account may have just gotten more useful. This morning, five major cable companies - Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable - announced a joint partnership to enable free access to local WiFi hotspots for customers of any participating provider.
To simplify access, a new unifying network brand "CableWifi" has been created for subscribers to identify on signage at available locations, sending the message "This hotspot's for you." At first, they'll sign on with the same credentials used on home turf. In a few months, users will be able to have their devices auto-connect to the internet whenever they're located in a "CableWiFi" zone, for free e-mailing, photo sharing, web searches, gaming, etc.
The system actually expands on a 2010 WiFi sharing agreement between Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable that covered Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Connecticut. The hotspot sharing will now grow to more than 50,000 locations with added service areas of Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.
Los Angeles and the touristy Florida towns Tampa and Orlando have been identified as early adopters with "several additional cities" coming soon.
Indoor and outdoor WiFi hotspots tend to be located in high foot traffic areas - shopping districts, cafes, malls, arenas, restaurants, rail line stations and some parks and beaches. None of Philadelphia's popular museums or historic sites popped up as hotspots, though, in my search of Comcast Xfinity's coverage map this morning. Any way you could make CableWiFi access more tourist-friendly, guys?