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It’s rarely a good thing when the country’s biggest cable providers partner up, but subscribers might be okay with today’s news.

Customers of Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner will soon be able to connect to each other’s Wi-Fi networks. The combined network, named “CableWifi” will vastly expand each company’s hotspot offerings under a larger, cross-compatible umbrella.

Connecting to CableWiFi will work via a single set of credentials that can be used across all of the partnership’s 50,000 hotspots in New York City, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando, and Philadelphia.

The offer, however, isn’t entirely new. Independently, cable companies have been offering similar deals for their customers for some time. And they’re not new to working together, either: The current partnership is an expansion of a previous one between Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner that appeared in 2010.

Instead, the news here is that the five companies, all of which have very significant user bases, are working to counter a greater threat: Wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T which threaten to steal away all of the cable companies’ customers’ mobile Internet time.

To counter that, companies like Time Warner have had to make their mobile Wi-Fi offerings more compelling — making their wireless networks as large as possible is one of the best ways to do that.

But the companies still have a while to go. While 50,000 hot spots is significant, the cable companies’ offerings pale in comparison to those of metro Wi-Fi providers like Boingo, which offers over 500,000 W-iFi hotspots.

Via CNet; Image via Shutterstock