Cablevision starts crowdsourcing Wi-Fi hotspots

Cablevision(s cvc) revealed on its earnings call Thursday that it has been rolling out new smart wireless gateways, which create the equivalent of two wireless networks at the end of every cable modem, LightReading reported. The first is the customer’s private home network. The second is a public network, which any Cablevision broadband customer can connect to.

It’s the crowdsourced Wi-Fi model that Comcast(s cmsca) has been pursuing aggressively since last year to grow its Wi-Fi hotspot network into neighborhoods, and it appears Cablevision has similar ambitions. According to LightReading, Cablevision plans to have 1 million hotspot nodes in the New York City tri-state area by the end of the year.

Cablevision has always been hot on Wi-Fi. It was the first to start installing outdoor public hotspots in a commercial corridors and high-trafficked public areas throughout its cable territory. But the addition of these new neighborhoods will give its customers access in areas beyond those so-called “hot zones.”

Though you can’t use Wi-Fi to build a cellular-network replacement, the cable operators have been toying with the concept of Wi-Fi First. In such a model networks using unlicensed airwaves could provide an underlying layer of cheap data access, complementing and in some case supplanting 3G and 4G networks. The more Wi-Fi is available in more places, the less we’re dependent on cellular data and ultimately that will make the costs of mobile networking go down.