Time Warner Cable (TWC) is partnering with WeFi in order to expand its national Wi-Fi hotspot network. Instead of building their own additional hotspots, the cable giant can leverage WeFi’s existing network for its internet customers by enabling them to access the Wi-Fi hotspots installed by governments and businesses for public use.
Incorporating these open hotspots will increase the coverage range of the TWC Wi-Fi Hotspot network, while costing far less than building their own additional hotspots. In addition, the added convenience from being able to access more hotspots should encourage customer stickiness and loyalty, which is helpful for cushioning the MSO’s losses in their pay TV division.
Wi-Fi usage has been steadily increasing, due to the rise in sales of Internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and netbooks in the past few years. In 2009, about 172 million smartphones were purchased, which was a 24% increase over 2008. Smartphone owners tend to utilize both cellular data networks and Wi-Fi networks to access the internet, and a sizeable portion of smartphone users subscribe to internet services in their home as well. TWC hopes to capitalize on the habits of smartphone users, hoping that the increased convenience that comes with a larger Wi-Fi network will limit cord cutting and attract new subscribers.
In addition, TWC has beefed up their Standard Internet Plan by raising the maximum download speed from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps—a 50% increase. By far the most popular internet plan, this upgrade is free and requires no additional equipment. The speed increase is being rolled out first in the following regions: North and South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, New York, New Jersey and the New England area. The free speed upgrade will be available to the other areas within TWC’s service network by the end of this month.
These upgrades and system improvements will hopefully quell the discontent that current subscribers have over the company’s recently enacted modem fee. TWC insisted that the fee was just to cover maintenance and replacements of the modems over time, which is not unreasonable since cable rivals Cox and Comcast already charge modem fees.
As it stands, there are no fee increases regarding increased Wi-Fi hotspot coverage, which are already included at no additional cost with qualifying internet plans.