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
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (0) comments


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed