Light Reading

Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak

Alan Breznick
7/5/2013
50%
50%

If you thought U.S. cable operators had already deployed lots of Wi-Fi hotspots, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

That's one of the conclusions of a recent report from Heavy Reading, which predicts that cable hotspot growth will continue apace as MSOs scramble to extend their broadband networks wirelessly, add more value to their cable packages and guard against potential encroachment by over-the-top (OTT) video players.

The Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider report, From Wired to Wireless: Cable Uses Wi-Fi to Extend Its Reach, projects that the U.S. cable industry will deploy more than 250,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by mid-2014, an increase of more than 60 percent on the current installed base.

The report also estimates that the cable industry has already sunk more than $175 million in capital expenditures into deploying Wi-Fi hotspots during the past couple of years. Heavy Reading expects that total to double to more than $350 million by mid-2014 as the deployment pace picks up further.

"Wi-Fi has given cable a vital entry point into wireless," said Craig Leddy, a Heavy Reading contributing analyst who authored the report, in an emailed response to questions. "We found that the major MSOs are aggressively deploying hotspots and we expect that their role in wireless will continue to grow. For wired service providers, wireless has become an imperative."

Indeed, just in the past month, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications have all announced aggressive new deployments of Wi-Fi in their service territories.

In the latest instance, Time Warner said it will install 10,000 hotspots throughout its New York City service area by the end of the year, up from about 2,000 hotspots now.

As a result, cable operators have now deployed more than 174,000 hotspots throughout the U.S., according to the latest data tracked by Heavy Reading. That's up noticeably from the 150,000-plus hotspots that the five big MSO members of the CableWiFi roaming alliance -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks -- reported at the Cable Show in Washington, D.C. just last month.

Cablevision leads the way with more than 80,000 hotspots deployed in the greater New York metro area. Comcast, which recently unveiled plans to convert wireless modem gateways in its customers' homes into Wi-Fi "neighborhood" hotspots, follows with more than 58,000 hotspots rolled out throughout its Northeastern, mid-Atlantic, Atlanta, Chicago and California markets. (See Comcast Turns Homes into Hotspots.)

The Heavy Reading report also points out, however, that cable operators face numerous technical and operational challenges in extending their Wi-Fi reach further. These challenges include quality of service, scalability and security, with service quality probably topping the list.

"Wi-Fi is an unlicensed, best-effort technology that faces traffic congestion and quality issues as public hotspots multiply," Leddy said. "So the nightmare for cable operators is if they roll out hotspots, promote mobile broadband and out-of-home video capabilities and then the Wi-Fi service just downright sucks [and] customers can't get access."

In addition, Leddy finds fault with the five big cable partners for not doing more to take advantage of their CableWiFi cross-MSO roaming capability so far. For example, he noted, although CableWiFi is available across the New York and Los Angeles areas, few cable broadband customers are actually aware of it yet. "The MSOs need to combine more hotspots and do more promotion to raise awareness of CableWiFi," he said.

Bur Leddy expects that situation to improve as such technological enhancements as HotSpot 2.0 and other emerging Wi-Fi capabilities are implemented, enabling more seamless roaming across wireless networks. "Then you might see MSOs pay more attention to promoting CableWiFi as a metropolitan, regional or even nationwide service," he said.

Although they now mostly offer Wi-Fi service for free, Leddy also believes that cable operators have the opportunity to generate revenues from the service. He said MSOs have the potential to sell daily service to non-cable customers, upsell high-speed Internet tiers and add revenue-producing business apps and services. In addition, he sees financial promise in MSOs offloading smartphone data traffic onto their Wi-Fi networks, much as they already do with cellular backhaul traffic.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(14)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
nuker
50%
50%
nuker,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/13/2013 | 12:27:16 AM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
I wonder which sites/facilities the MSOs will acquire to make this viable. Their current home/business service sites would not be enough to provide a useful footprint. Would they use utility companies or lease some sites of their own. Did they learn any useful lessons from Google trying (and arguably failing) to build a Public WiFi ?
Jpatton0007
50%
50%
Jpatton0007,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/12/2013 | 7:05:16 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Correct, 'challenging' is an understatement... the few MSO's we work with are deploying 1,000s of APs per month and escalating... but reaching a density and coverage that creates leverage for national lucrative multi-MNO offload deals is perhaps 18M away... however, that would perhaps dovetail nicely with Hotspot 2.0/NGH maturation... "build it and they will come"... we'll see if it works : )
gconnery
50%
50%
gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/12/2013 | 5:41:31 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Agreed. My AT&T cell phone will login to AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots without any interaction at all. With Comcast I have to enter my Comcast login credentials, and again since most people use web-based email they probably don't even remember their Comcast login.

Personally my experience with Comcast Wi-Fi has been very spotty. Only seen it a few places and I've never successfully accessed the network. Generally just gets hung up trying to access the network.
DanJonesLRMobile
50%
50%
DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/11/2013 | 6:02:25 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Yeah, that's a big problem.
campmisty
50%
50%
campmisty,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/11/2013 | 4:47:39 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Just once would be too often. You might be suspicious if you saw Starbucks SSID and you aren't in a coffee shop. But since cable wifi is supposed to be pervasive, there's never a time when one can be sure if it's real or an evil twin. best to stay away.
DanJonesLRMobile
50%
50%
DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/11/2013 | 2:47:20 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
I wonder if anyone has ever quantified how many 'Evil Twin' attacks have happened on Wi-Fi, seems to the most popular 802.11 exploit.
campmisty
50%
50%
campmisty,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/11/2013 | 12:45:42 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
+1. The 'Evil Twin' attack is very real on cable wifi networks. Not only can your username and password be siphoned off, but *all* your data can be logged by a third party. I would never use it. This is a privacy disaster waiting to happen.
virtualCableTV
50%
50%
virtualCableTV,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/9/2013 | 12:24:52 AM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
As the cord cutting phenomena persists the cable companies will continue to scale their broadband ISP services. I suspect once they establish pervasive wireless hotspot connectivity to "their" network using unregulated protocols such as Wi-Fi they will impose terms of use to hinder, obstruct or prevent OTT the same way they have prevented us from using services from our homes for "commercial" use which costs 5-6 times more for "permission" to do the same thing.
nuker
50%
50%
nuker,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/8/2013 | 11:45:03 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Users at home users typically switch to WiFi. For a roaming user to use offload by hopping onto another users's WiFi, the WiFi footprint has to be large enough for the mobile operator to pay. The business model still looks challenging.
FrankM
50%
50%
FrankM,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/8/2013 | 10:22:29 PM
re: Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak
Do these cable companies allow you to create a new user & password on your account that only exists to use CableWiFi networks?

I would not want to enter my primary account information user/pass to access a network named "CableWiFi", which may or may not be an authentic access point.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Interviews
In the Cloud With Telecom Italia

3|5|15   |   7:10   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders sits down with Telecom Italia's Simone Battiferri at Mobile World Congress to discuss virtualization, agility and the economic advantages of the cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
New Ways of Working

3|5|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Hong Kong Telecom's Michael Yue explains how the transformation in its business has changed its customer relationships.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bridging the Digital Gap

3|5|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Boingo's Dr. Derek Peterson explains how ICT can help telcos bring the physical and virtual worlds closer together.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Making the Internet of Things Affordable

3|5|15   |   2:42   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Telefonica's Dr. Mike Short explains how the Internet of Things demands a new low-cost approach to connectivity from telcos.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Evolution, Not Revolution

3|5|15   |   2:00   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan explains why telcos can't be too hasty in their efforts to transform themselves.
LRTV Custom TV
Management & Orchestration Enablement Strategies Required for NFV Commercial Success

3|5|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


NFV commercial success rests on successful service orchestration strategies which can span heterogeneous physical, virtual, legacy and next-gen networks. Network data and security integrity are additional key aspects. Nakina provides a suite of orchestratable network integrity applications built on an open, scalable MANO enablement platform.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.