Light Reading
Cable companies have a lot to gain from the next-generation WiFi standards that will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress next week.

Momentum Mounts for Cable WiFi

Mari Silbey
2/20/2014
50%
50%

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: Moderator
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
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV – Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
Level 3 Does Big Data Differently
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/21/2014
T-Mobile: Small Cells? We're Dense Already
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/22/2014
Comcast Streams Back to School
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/21/2014
Sprint Drops Prices, But Also Speeds?
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/21/2014
Line-Powered Phone Lines: A Hot Topic Again
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed