Light Reading

Momentum Mounts for Cable WiFi

Mari Silbey
2/20/2014
50%
50%
Repost This

If there was any doubt about the growing momentum behind cable WiFi, several recent milestones have done much to dispel it.

There was the rapid growth of public WiFi hotspots in 2013. The Cable WiFi initiative has grown to cover 250,000 hotspots, or close to it. There are the early investigations underway into small-cell field trials for extending mobile connectivity through WiFi, with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) admitting interest and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) reportedly testing the technology already. And there is the new WifiForward coalition that Time Warner, Comcast, and Charter Communications Inc. have all joined to lobby for expanded WiFi support in Washington, DC. (See Cable WiFi Hotspots Could Hit 1M in Year, TW Cable Eyes Small Cells Too, and Rival MSOs, Tech Rivals Unite on WiFi.)

Beyond these cable-specific initiatives, however, there is also important progress being made on the WiFi standards front. Next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) will jointly demonstrate a live Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) network supporting WiFi roaming.

In this case, roaming means that visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to discover and gain access to the conference's hotspot network. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot. Eighteen operators are signed up to participate in the demonstration, along with seven hardware vendors.

WiFi standards development is important because it has the potential to accelerate the adoption of more sophisticated WiFi services.

”What's really exciting here is that we're moving from a time of proprietary solutions, agreements based on... proprietary technology... to a time when you have both the technology with Passpoint and then the roaming infrastructure that NGH delivers such that you have something really very standards-based," said Kelly Davis-Felner, VP of Marketing for Wi-Fi Alliance, in an interview. "And there's a lot of leverage in that because everybody starts doing everything the same way."

While new standards should help all network operators, cable companies arguably have the most to gain. The rapid evolution of WiFi technology gives cable providers something they've never had before: a footprint outside the home.

There are multiple use cases for cable WiFi. Cable operators are already using these wireless networks to keep their current subscribers connected when they're outside the range of fixed broadband. As cable companies increase their geographic coverage, they'll also have more of an opportunity to package WiFi service and sell it to others.

Mobile carriers are good customer candidates in that case. Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of Wireless Broadband Alliance, believes there will be more roaming agreements announced in the near future where mobile operators bundle WiFi from partners with their own mobile services.

"Operators on both sides benefit because [there are] cable companies… who have the footprint and there are mobile operators who have the subscribers… You could actually create some interesting product packaging," said Shenwai.

Not all of the pieces are in place yet for the cable WiFi revolution. Network coverage is still limited for the moment, and a lot of consumer devices don't yet support the Passpoint standard, which enables many of the more advanced WiFi features available.

However, there are positive signs even where Passpoint is concerned. Davis-Felner noted that there was an inflection point in about the middle of 2013 where Passpoint-certified consumer devices began to overtake certified infrastructure equipment. Passpoint is also being integrated directly into mobile processors now, which will make it easier for more hardware vendors to support it.

For the cable industry, all of the evidence suggests that next-generation wireless services are on the near-term horizon. So the industry's WiFi momentum will likely continue.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/20/2014 | 6:15:39 PM
Re: What spot hotspot?
As more roaming agreements become common among participants and the mobile infrastructure builds, it will only be to everyone's advantage to participate. The cable folks will certainly gain, while giving the public more valuable services on the go. But, defining the standars and getting agreement among the parties might be the difficult task ahead.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/20/2014 | 4:52:14 PM
Re: What spot hotspot?
Right -- so this is how all cable operators are approaching WiFi?
CraigPlunkett
50%
50%
CraigPlunkett,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/20/2014 | 4:44:45 PM
Re: What spot hotspot?
MSOs deploy outdoor APs on strand, and in their indoor deployments, they put in another cable modem next to the customer's and hang an MSO managed AP on premise.  They then co-market the venue on the hotspot map and with Point of Presence signage.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/20/2014 | 4:12:27 PM
What spot hotspot?
Mari -- Are cable operators deploying hotspots in a consistent way? Are any of them setting up independent infrastructure, or are they relying on customers (like stores, bars, etc.) to set up wifi zones?
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
Optimizing SDN & NFV Architectures Through Application Awareness

4|23|14   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


Jerome Tollet, CTO at Qosmos, explains how network equipment vendors and operators deploying SDN and NFV can take advantage of network intelligence delivered by DPI to strengthen products and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Wind River Demonstrates Carrier-Grade Software for NFV

4|22|14   |   5:00   |   (0) comments


Wind River VP of Product Management, Glenn Seiler, takes a look the industry's first and only complete NFV software platform designed specifically for the unique carrier-grade and high-performance needs of telecom networks.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (4) comments


US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments


Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (7) comments


Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment


Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments


Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments


Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments


Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
Hot Topics
WhatsApp Threatens Carrier VoLTE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/18/2014
The Hungry, Hungry Cloud
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2014
Who's Ready to Play Broadband?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/21/2014
FCC's 'Middle Ground' Already Under Attack
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/24/2014
AT&T Gets 81% of Subs Off Unlimited Data
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/22/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed