Light Reading
Comcast is selling wireless hotspot access to subscribers of KDDI and Taiwan Mobile, but WiFi is no substitute for mobile broadband.

Comcast Offers WiFi to KDDI, Taiwan Mobile Subs

Mari Silbey
5/12/2014
50%
50%

Comcast is putting millions of WiFi hotspots to more profitable use through new agreements with Asian cellular carriers KDDI and Taiwan Mobile.

According to Reuters, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has signed deals with the two big Asian operators to offer WiFi as a service to their subscribers traveling in the US. Instead of paying high mobile roaming charges, customers of KDDI Corp. and Taiwan Mobile Co. Ltd. can access Comcast's WiFi network for Internet connectivity on the go.

Only two weeks ago Comcast said it planned to extend its WiFi footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of this year. And in March, Comcast Senior Vice President Tom Nagel described WiFi as "our mobile network of choice" in an interview with Light Reading. Nagel said hotspot usage is on the rise and that very few Comcast subscribers have opted out of the company's neighborhood hotspot program. The neighborhood initiative turns home routers into dual public/private access points. (See Comcast Whips Up More WiFi and Comcast's Home Hotspots Heat Up.)

Comcast isn't the only provider with broad WiFi ambitions. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) CEO James Dolan recently teased the introduction of new and "disruptive" WiFi data products. On the telecom side, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is selling its WiFi network to overseas carriers in much the same way Comcast has done with KDDI and Taiwan Mobile. The US telco signed a deal with Spanish startup Fon Wireless Ltd. last October. (See Cablevision Plots WiFi Market Disruption and WiFi Spreads Like Wildfire.)

Cable companies have been looking to find a way into the mobile market for years. Now that WiFi has proven successful, operators are experimenting with different ways to monetize network access. Service providers are selling WiFi day passes, while also considering offering WiFi as a cellular backhaul alternative and using WiFi analytics to deliver location-based advertising. (See Cable Finally Sees Money in Wireless.)

As a direct mobile alternative, however, WiFi still has many shortcomings. Using unlicensed spectrum, WiFi creates a best-effort network. There are no quality guarantees and cable companies still face multiple technical challenges.

Roaming between WiFi networks is one critical issue. Industry standards organizations are working to solve the roaming problem through a new Hotspot 2.0 specification, but it will take time before most consumer devices are certified to support the technology. (See Can Cable WiFi Scale?)

Another critical issue is the effectiveness of home-based hotspots. Although cable companies are adamant that public traffic on a subscriber's home router has no impact on the household WiFi experience, Light Reading has heard multiple anecdotes suggesting problems exist.

For instance, WiFi chip maker Celeno Communications told us that service providers need more fine-tuned control over bandwidth allocation and quality assurance. The semiconductor company has its own solution called OptimizAIR technology, which allows for dynamic, real-time control of the WiFi user experience. Again, however, technical solutions are still in the early deployment phases. The complexity involved means the consumer experience will continue to be far from perfect.

It's no wonder that service providers are working overtime to lobby Washington for more spectrum. Everyone sees more revenue potential in the future of WiFi. Now providers need to work out the technical glitches to realize that potential.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
mhhf1ve
100%
0%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/13/2014 | 3:30:59 PM
Wifi is not quite a cellular replacement for users...
I think Wifi hotspots are a "semi-mobile" solution... users won't be able to really "roam" between hotspots because, in general, most hotspots are so far apart that a user would lose a connection going from one hotspot to another. That might be okay for data applications, but not for voice calls.
msilbey
100%
0%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
5/12/2014 | 12:55:59 PM
Re: In An LTE world?
What's funny of course is that WiFi was never meant to be a mobile network. Yet, WiFi has gained steam, while WiMAX in the US has died on the vine. 
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/12/2014 | 12:47:02 PM
In An LTE world?
While looking for new broadband service, I noted that Comcast now throws in "access to thousands of Wifi hotspots" with a standard XFinity Internet package, but given that we'll soon be living in an LTE world (or even a Sprint Spark, 120Mpbs world), will wifi be at all competitive.   I know that a single Wimax antenna can cover 30 sq. miles.   I don't know if LTE is that efficient or similar, but it seems like it'd be much easier to build and manage an LTE style network.

 
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
5/12/2014 | 12:41:22 PM
WiFi Tech Problems
Very interesting, Mari. We don't har much about WiFi's technical issues and how major a problem they could be. I'd love to har more about those. Any thoughts out there?
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 Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Rick Talbot, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:12   |   (0) comments


At the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Rick Talbot shared his positive feedback about the holistic and open approach that Huawei adopts for SDN and NFV. He also found the open sharing at the event valuable as it features different perspectives from Huawei experts, telecom operators, industry analysts as well as security experts.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With David Snow, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:24   |   (0) comments


David Snow talked about his understanding of Huawei and its SoftCOM strategy at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that Huawei's wide approach combining IT and CT expertise, introducing big data and analytics into solutions and contributing to the OpenStack community particularly resonate with him and make the company stand out in the industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

10|31|14   |   3:13   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro commented on Huawei's data center capabilities and NFV solutions at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that in addition to covering all three key domains of compute, storage and networking, the company also emphasizes the importance of management capabilities and professional services, which are essential in making NFV a reality.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Michael Howard, Co-founder & Principal Analyst, Infonetics Research

10|31|14   |   5:25   |   (0) comments


Michael Howard talked about SDN, NFV, and OpenStack adoption at Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014. Particularly, he pointed out that Virtual Enterprise CPE is the top NFV use case that operators plan to invest in over 2014 and 2015 to deliver new enterprise services through virtualized functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Jerry Caron, Senior Vice President, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   3:11   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Jerry Caron from Current Analysis said that orchestration and management are key to realizing SDN and NFV for global carriers, and the approach that Huawei is taking, with its FusionSphere Cloud OS at the core, is in the right direction to address the challenges.
LRTV Documentaries
Broadband Battles

10|31|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


This year's Broadband World Forum featured a number of show floor battles focused on access gear, components and coffee.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
Upcoming Live Events
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
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed