The news broke yesterday what the cable operators and mobile operators will be doing surrounding the impending mother of all hurricanes and tropical storms. Florence. Like clockwork both Comcast (Xfinity) and Charter (Spectrum) announced they are making Wi-Fi free in the affected areas.
From the cable operators perspective, the storm may be the moment of truth for them. Over the past decade they have been building out their own data networks, installing Wi-Fi access point and basically recreating the phone system.
Opening the Wi-Fi networks and making them free is the right thing to do. Of course, there's more to this than just being nice and by making Wi-Fi available to the millions of displaced residents and workers in the Carolinas who are subscribers or not, they get the value of free promotion through the news angle. But there's really more than just good PR.
Both of the two cable giants (known as MSO for multiple system operators) also get to prove out how weatherproof and reliable their Wi-Fi networks are in the eye of a hell of a big storm. Second, they show off how their dual mode phone service is better suited for today vs. having a landline as it provides the ability to take the phone and go, vs. being trapped at home and how connected their customers can be. Third, and possibly the most important, they can demonstrate how they provide coverage where their may not be any cell coverage to begin with, taking aim at the mobile operators, all of whom have made plans of their own.
Here's to hoping the storm passes, and that those affected stay safe. But if Florence does hit, this is a supreme test of technology that wasn't here in the past, and where preparations from lessons learned, based upon what has happened before, are put to the test.