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
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
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
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed