Time Warner Cable and Cablevision may seem like strange bedfellows, but now customers of both services can get free Wi-Fi from the same network of hotspots.
Cablevision built the Optimum Wi-Fi network two years ago, and now Time Warner's Road Runner High Speed Online customers can reap the benefits. They just need to have their account user name and password handy in places like Madison Square Park in Manhattan and Kissena Park in Queens.
Thousands of hotspots are available around the city, though they're mostly situated on Cablevision's turf outside of Manhattan. Here's the login page.
I'd guess that no one uses these randomly-scattered, login-only hotspots, but I'm wrong. Cablevision told DSL Reports in June 2009 that it had seen two million connections to its Wi-Fi hotspots. The New York Times' David Pogue discovered it on a train platform in Connecticut, and fell in love. Who knew?
Even if you don't live in the tri-state area, you should still care. Rival cable companies teaming up on free Wi-Fi amounts to an alliance against telecoms and wireless carriers, and that rivalry isn't local to New York. What that means for you is that we may see more joint Wi-Fi hotspots offered among cable companies.
Some people on the DSL Reports forums have reported seeing "Xfinity" -- Comcast's new name for its cable services -- listed among the wireless networks that Cablevision operates. Comcast hasn't announced anything, but you might soon be able to connect to a hotspot in New York even if you're from out of town, and vice versa.