Light Reading
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter are teaming up with tech rivals to push a WiFi agenda in Washington with new cross-industry coalition.

Rival MSOs, Tech Rivals Unite on WiFi

Mari Silbey
2/14/2014
50%
50%

WiFi makes for strange bedfellows.

On the same day that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) pulled the rug out from under Charter Communications Inc. with its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), it turns out that the three cable companies are teaming with a raft of other organizations to push for expanded WiFi support in Washington, DC. Through a coalition called WifiForward, the three big MSOs are joining a group that includes Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Best Buy, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , and several others that would like to see more spectrum freed up for WiFi services.

Notably, the group does not include telecom companies AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). (See Comcast Strikes $45B Deal for TWC.)

The WifiForward coalition cites as its mission to:

  • Protect and strengthen existing unlicensed spectrum designations;
  • Free up new spectrum for unlicensed use at a variety of frequencies, including low, medium, and high frequency bands; and
  • Establish investment-friendly, transparent, and predictable unlicensed rules that encourage growth and deployment.

According to a report released earlier this week by WeFi Inc. , the number of US commercial-grade public hotspots is expected to rise to 10.55 million by 2018. Consumers are increasingly flocking to these hotspots because they want to access more Internet content on their mobile devices but don't want to pay extra for cellular data plans that include monthly bandwidth usage caps. (See WiFi Data Offloading Soars in 2013.)

Given this surging demand, cable companies particularly see an opportunity to extend their services outside the home by bundling free WiFi access with traditional Internet plans. The Cable iFi Alliance, which includes five of the top cable operators in the US -- although notably not Charter -- has already linked together more than 200,000 public hotspots under the "CableWiFi" SSID. The alliance allows participant subscribers to access free WiFi from any of the organization's joint hotspots around the country. (See Cable Finally Sees Money in Wireless.)

Leading the cable pack, Comcast has rapidly activated new hotspots in homes by partitioning access in consumer gateways to create local WiFi networks that are available to other Comcast Xfinity subscribers. Comcast claims these home hotspots now number close to 1 million. (See Comcast Turns Homes Into Hotspots.)

Cable companies still haven't settled on the best ways to monetize new WiFi access. But they are aggressively courting Washington to extend spectrum availability all the same. As the WifiForward coalition shows, sometimes that even means partnering up with rivals to advance the WiFi cause.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
victorblake
0%
100%
victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
2/17/2014 | 9:41:07 AM
AT&T & Verizon vs. MSO WiFi
This is exactly the kind of reason why Comcast/TWC would be helpful. Comcast and TWC do not compete with each other. There is no loss of competition from an acquisition like that.

What there is, is the potential for real competition with wireless operators that control (I might add the much HIGHER PRICE of mobile data services than broadband wireline data services). The ability to offer more contiguous coverage areas using the same WiFi network could offer the first reasonable competition for cellular pricing.

I'm amazed that people complain about broadband Internet access cable pricing, but where are the complaints about wireless ? The prices are astronimically higher per Mbps (data rate) and with extremely low (2GB) caps on wireless.

Who wouldn't want to see the continued growth of WiFi to help compete with that ?
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/17/2014 | 9:09:51 AM
Re: No AT&T & Verizon?
I agree, the more Wifi availability the better. But will this get any traction outside of D.C.? It's rare that any tech initiative starts there, they usually move from the coasts toward the center of the country.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/15/2014 | 2:33:27 PM
Re: No AT&T & Verizon?
Hard to see a downside to this proposal. Cable companies get a new revenue opportunity, consumers get less expensive wireless broadband. I wonder if a network of WiFi hotspots could seriously put a dent in 3G/4G/5G/LTE. It might in densely populated urban areas. 
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/15/2014 | 12:12:06 PM
Re: No AT&T & Verizon?
It only makes sense that the telcos are not happy about possible jeapardizaton of their current situation where they can demand and get high fees, and plan limits at low speeds for their services. Competion from cable, Google and Microsoft would certainly create a situation where customers would see lower costs eventually.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
2/14/2014 | 5:57:44 PM
No AT&T & Verizon?
Sounds like the cable ops, Internet content providers and tech groups may be ganging up against the big telcos, who hold much of the available wieless spectrum. Are we about to see anothr cross-industry war break out in DC? 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
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 Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Graham Finnie from Heavy Reading about some of the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control.
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Frank Miller: Distributed Solutions are the Best Build for the Future - Part II

1|9|15   |   2:46   |   (0) comments


At SCTE, Frank Miller, Global CTO of MSO at Huawei, speaks about Cable 2.0 and its innovative future.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cuomo Unveils Broadband Aid Program
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/19/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection -- That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive