Time Warner Cable‘s plan to expand its WiFi networks in Austin, TX, (with more cities to come) is the latest evidence of cable’s wireless broadband ambition. Google Fiber‘s plan to make Austin the next gigabit "fiberhood," announced 2 weeks before TWC’s Austin announcement, "did encourage us to accelerate what we were doing," Peter Cunningham, TWC wireless vp, told CableFAX in an interview. "We recognize Google as a key player… We are willing to compete." However, Cunningham said the MSO actually finalized its WiFi expansion plan last year and started deploying some Austin hotspots before Google’s announcement.

Speaking of Google, the company announced that the Shawnee [KS] City Council approved its plan to bring fiber network to the city, right outside of Kansas City. No estimate on when service will be available. Cunningham said TWC can offer 10 times the speed of Google Fiber to its business customers. And during TWC’s recent conference call, CEO Glenn Britt downplayed Google Fiber’s faster residential speeds because "they connect to the same old Internet, where most of the servers are actually slower…" Google Fiber’s connection is similar to some of TWC’s existing services, he said.

So far, 65 hotspots are launched in popular Austin locations, with a goal of deploying several hundred in the city. Access points will be attached to the main network, routing all traffic back to TWC’s core network. The average throughput is 12 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Like WiFi deployments in other TWC markets, the majority of the Austin buildout is expected to be complete in 2-3 years.

Currently, the op is building WiFi in 5 other markets, including L.A., Kansas City, Hawaii, Charlotte and NYC. The company’s criteria for WiFi cities? Cities like Austin have "very tech savvy residents, a bustling downtown area and lots of recreation and parks," Cunningham said. In addition to providing the service to TWC subs for free, he said "we absolutely want to provide access pass capabilities" on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Austin is the 4th WiFi market for TWC, which also has WiFi roaming agreements with Comcast, Cablevision, Cox and Bright House.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared in CableFAX Daily. Go here to subscribe.

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