Light Reading

Comcast Whips Up More WiFi

Alan Breznick
5/1/2014
50%
50%

LOS ANGELES -- The Cable Show -- Seeking to blanket the US with wireless coverage, Comcast aims to expand its WiFi footprint to a whopping 8 million hotspots by the end of the year, far more than any other wireless provider.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced the enormous WiFi expansion plans at the Cable Show here Wednesday, saying that it will extend its Xfinity WiFi network to 8 million hotspots by adding locations in 19 of the country's 30 largest cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

Comcast is looking to blanket the US with WiFi coverage by deploying hotspots in 19 of the nation's largest metro areas.
Comcast is looking to blanket the US with WiFi coverage by deploying hotspots in 19 of the nation's largest metro areas.

The MSO said it will beef up its network rapidly by focusing on three different types of locations -- outdoor public areas, business facilities, and neighborhood hotspots in private homes. The vast majority of hotspots will be added in customer homes, where the cabler is now installing access points with a second, public SSID signal on the new WiFi-enabled data gateways that it's deploying throughout the nation.

Comcast officials, who just announced that they had activated their 1 millionth hotspot a few weeks ago, said they're carrying out the ambitious expansion drive to satisfy existing subscriber demand and future-proof their wireless network for rapidly growing needs. "Wireless access is increasingly important to our customers, and we are building a network that not only meets today's needs but also stays ahead of tomorrow's demands," claimed Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services for Comcast Cable.

The MSO's soaring WiFi usage numbers tell much of the story. Comcast estimates that nearly 200 million out-of-home sessions have been initiated on the Xfinity WiFi network so far this year, a 700% increase from the same period last year. Due to increases like that, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) estimates 88% of all US data traffic on mobile and portable devices will travel over WiFi links by 2018.

Despite some signs that they and other large US MSOs may be looking to develop a "WiFi First" mobile voice service with their rapidly growing WiFi networks, Comcast executives insisted that they're not planning such a service now. Although WiFi can do a lot, they said, it is not a licensed technology and can never match a cellular network.

The top wireless service executives of other leading US MSOs echoed that sentiment at the show. Representing the national CableWifi Alliance consortium -- which consists of Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), and Bright House Networks -- they said they still view WiFi as a complementary service to cellular, not a competitive one. They also said they view their WiFi services as ways to differentiate their offerings from their telco rivals.

Unrelated to the Comcast news, the CableWiFi Alliance announced that it now covers 250,000 cable hotspots throughout the US, up from 200,000 last fall and 150,000 a year ago. At these hotspots, cable subscribers can either use their own MSO-branded SSID or the newer "CableWiFi" SSID to link to the network.

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

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
atif.sajid@gmail.com
50%
50%
atif.sajid@gmail.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/3/2014 | 11:57:46 PM
Re: Shifting to WiFi Makes Sense, But...
I wonder if if Comcast planning to use it's WiFi reach for offloading any mobile data?

 

Atif
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/1/2014 | 1:45:32 PM
Re: Shifting to WiFi Makes Sense, But...
Sprint says it has handoff in place for its service, but I haven't heard how well it works. I could see cable going this route, but I'm not sure if they need to at this point. Their WiFi is already a great value add.
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/1/2014 | 11:20:02 AM
Shifting to WiFi Makes Sense, But...
The shift of voice calls to WiFi makes sense in order to use other network resources for higher margin data uses. But the question will be how well the handoff goes to and from WiFi as one leaves or enters the range of a WiFi hotspot.
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 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   |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


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.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


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.
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
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.