Cable Goes Big With Wi-Fi Roaming
Five major U.S. MSOs have signed Wi-Fi roaming deals that will let their high-speed Internet customers tap into more than 50,000 wireless hotspots.
Those operators -- Bright House Networks , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) -- will also try to simplify access with the creation of a shared, uniform Wi-Fi network identifier: "CableWiFi." The initial deployment of the new roaming architecture has already been completed on Cablevision's Wi-Fi network in New York City and Bright House's in central Florida.
The CableWiFi label will be added to all of the MSO's Wi-Fi hotpots in "the next few months." Further out, the roaming system will let customers auto-connect their devices to the CableWifi hotspots. The operators on Monday also launched a website that maps out where the shared cable hotspots are located.
Light Reading Cable reported last December that several major cable operators were pursuing a common, scalable Wi-Fi roaming architecture that follows some initial work that Cablevision, TW Cable and Comcast undertook in the northeastern U.S. CableLabs , meanwhile, has published a technical specification that enables Wi-Fi roaming between cable operators.
Why this matters
Wi-Fi has become a key wireless strategy for cable operators, and roaming deals such as these will help them increase their reach, and use Wi-Fi to boost the value of their high-speed Internet services.
The use of the uniform CableWiFi Service Set Identifier (SSID) also eliminates cable operators from having to support individual SSIDs, and puts them on a path to a more mobile Wi-Fi network that lets customers move from one hotspot to another without having to log in each time. That, in turn, could pave the way for mobile voice strategies that rely on hybrid Wi-Fi/cellular handsets, and complement the recently struck cellular partnership with Verizon Wireless . (See Verizon Wireless: Cable’s New BFF.)
- Cable Sizes Up National Wi-Fi Play
- MSO WiFi: Roam (If You Want To)
- TW Cable Places Bigger Wi-Fi Bet
- Bright House Lights Up Wi-Fi in Florida
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable