& 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
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
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 Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.