& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 19, 1:00PM EDT
Securing a Virtual World
Rita Marty, Executive Director, Mobility and Cloud Security, Chief Security Office, AT&T
Friday, October 21, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Evolving the Data Center
Rasool Kareem Irfan, Head, Telecom & Infrastructure Security Practice, Tata Communications Transformation Services Ltd (TCTS)
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
From Philly, With Love

9|30|16   |     |   (5) comments


Join Alan Breznick, cable's answer to the Italian Stallion, as he runs through the highlights of SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, lumbers along in Rocky Balboa's footsteps and searches for the perfect Philadelphia cheesesteak.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: SD-WAN Customers Looking for Value Not Cost Savings

9|30|16   |   5:31   |   (0) comments


At NFV & Carrier SDN in Denver, CenturyLink's Eric Nowak told Light Reading that when customers launch SD-WAN, they aren't necessary looking to save money, but instead they are looking for more value from what they're spending. He also shared some unique case studies and lessons learned from launching SD-WAN services.
LRTV Custom TV
Flexible Deployment Approaches for the Gigabit Services Evolution

9|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


For many operators, the gigabit evolution begins with the shift from DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1. But that move represents a change not only in the protocol itself, but in the approach to architecting their entire DOCSIS delivery chain -- from the headend to the outside plant and home gateway components.

Jonathan Ruff, senior director of global technical ...

LRTV Interviews
Level 3 VP: Enterprises Need More for Less

9|29|16   |   05:27   |   (0) comments


Andrew Dugan, Level 3 group vice president of global technology and IT, says enterprises need more bandwidth and they need it faster and with greater security, but they want to spend less, if possible. They are looking to carriers to reduce their network complexity and help protect them from cyberattacks as well.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: SDN/NFV Pose New Interconnection Possibilities

9|28|16   |   04:37   |   (0) comments


Network operators should develop new APIs and business processes for reselling virtual assets to each other, says CenturyLink's Bill Walker. That will enable them to build digital business portfolios that help them avoid becoming commodity transport providers.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Overcoming Terror of Being Supplier, Integrator & Developer

9|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Travis Ewert of Level 3 Communications said there is terror in becoming supplier, integrator and developer, but it can be overcome and be cost effective.
LRTV Custom TV
Introducing IoT World News

9|27|16   |   01:43   |   (0) comments


Self-driving cars, medical sensors, smart cities... and refrigerators. In order to address the huge scope of IoT, KNect365 has created a unique online community that will help businesses to understand and monetize the opportunities that live within the IoT market. We look forward to welcoming you to IoT World News -- your gateway to a better connected future.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Reusable Functions Next NFV Key

9|27|16   |   06:03   |   (0) comments


The next generation of NFV has to break functions down into reusable software chunks, making everything much more cloud-like.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy on Security: Attackers Gaining Upper Hand

9|27|16   |   5:10   |   (2) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Ray Watson, vice president of Global Technology at Masergy, says that because of the growth in virtualization, the threat landscape is shifting in favor of the attackers. As a result, service providers need to think beyond just defending the perimeter and take a more holistic approach to security.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon Takes Next Step on Biz Virtualization Journey

9|26|16   |   4:38   |   (2) comments


At September's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Light Reading sat down with Victoria Lonker, director of Product and New Business Innovation at Verizon, to chat about where the carrier is with delivering virtualized services to business customers.
LRTV Interviews
Global Services: The $40B Face-Off

9|26|16   |   05:53   |   (1) comment


More service providers than ever before are battling it out to win a slice of what is now a $40 billion global communications services pie, explains Ovum Principal Analyst David Molony.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Eurobites: Telefónica Taps Juniper for Network Security
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 9/26/2016
AT&T CEO Backs Black Lives Matter
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/30/2016
Powell Kills the Cable Show
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/29/2016
Telstra Sees Quadrupled Data Capacity by 2020
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/28/2016
From Philly, With Love
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 9/30/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
There's Nothing Like Missing a Full Minute of Pokémon Go Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.