Light Reading
Heavy Reading report forecasts more than 250,000 MSO hotspots in the US by June 2014 but cites challenges ahead

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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
Paul Bunyan's Giant Gigabit Plans

12|22|14   |   03:26   |   (0) comments


Gary Johnson, the CEO and GM of Minnesota rural operator Paul Bunyan Communications, discusses the company's 5,000-square-mile gigabit network rollout.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive