Light Reading

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
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 Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (0) comments


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
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
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
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.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.