Cox is, well, they’re a cable company. People have praise and complaints. But Cox is about to hand its subscribers a pretty massive gift: One of the biggest WiFi hotspot networks in the country.
As somebody who has to occasionally be a laptop hobo, believe me, the bigger your WiFi hotspot network, the better. And Cox’s network is enormous, with 150,000 spots to access for their home Internet subscribers across the entire country. Even if you’re nowhere near an area Cox serves, you’ll be able to get onto a WiFi hotspot.
So how did Cox manage to pull this little stunt off? By joining the CableWiFi Consortium. Several major cable companies, like Comcast, Time Warner, and, yes, Cox, are pooling their resources to create more extensive WiFi networks for their customers.
And this isn’t just sitting down at a coffee shop and booting up, either: This consortium is essentially trying to privately wire the entire country, or at least any popular places it can find, with WiFi hotspots. But why?
Beyond the value-add for their customers, they’re probably thinking about the future. Currently the FCC is testing “white-space” broadband, which can essentially be described this way: You get a big-ass, powerful router, connect it to a television broadcast antenna, and flip the switch. This can blanket an area up to sixty miles in radius with a WiFi signal. Probably not an absolutely perfect one, but one that’s at least usable for most purposes.
So Cox and the other companies are trying to make themselves more useful for their customers, so said customers won’t ditch cable entirely once Netflix can follow them around on their tablet like a dog on a leash. And, hey, if nothing else, it means you’re more likely to get the Internet you need, when you need it. And that’s appealing even if you’re not a laptop hobo.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.