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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive