Cable Wi-Fi

Comcast Spreads WiFi Love

Even more than most cable operators, Comcast just can't get enough WiFi.

The giant US MSO continued on its WiFi binge this week, rolling out more than 1,300 public hotspots across the state of Utah and in the Kansas City metro area. As a result, it now has at least 60,000 hotspots throughout the nation, placing it second behind only Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) among the big American cable providers.

Specifically, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has launched more than 1,000 outdoor hotspots in several major Utah markets, including Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo. Plans call for more WiFi rollouts in Utah over the coming months, especially in Salt Lake City, the state's capital and largest metropolis. "We really want to continue to expand in Salt Lake City," Tom Nagel, Comcast's senior vice president of strategic initiatives, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

In the Kansas City area, Comcast has introduced more than 300 WiFi hotspots in such "major public venues" as the Independence Events Center. Plans call for further expansion in that market as well.

Notably, the WiFi expansion drive in Kansas City and Utah put Comcast's wireless broadband network in competition with Google Fiber Inc. , which has launched its 1Gig service in Kansas City and is now gearing up to do the same in Provo. Comcast will already compete against Google Fiber on the ground in Provo, where it's the incumbent cable provider. (See Google Fiber Starts Utah Rollout.)

Of course, Comcast is not the only MSO bingeing on WiFi these days. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) recently announced that US cable providers now operate 200,000 public WiFi hotspots across the country. (See WiFi Spreads Like Wildfire.)

These hotspots are generally free for cable broadband subscribers. But they also offer operators the opportunity to sell broadband access to non-cable-customers as a way to generate fresh revenue. Our research arm, Heavy Reading , predicts that the number of US cable WiFi hotspots will jump to 250,000 by mid-2014. (See Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak.)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

Want to learn more about the state of cable WiFi and the industry's plans to make some money off wireless broadband? Then come to Light Reading's Breakfast Roundtable at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta next Tuesday morning (October 22). Entitled "Monetizing WiFi," this free, one-hour session will explore how cable operators can overcome challenges to generate fresh revenue streams from their new wireless broadband services. MSO technologists and equipment vendors will examine how cable providers can make money by offering such services as cellular backhaul, mobile offload, advertising, and premium content. Please click here for more information and to register. See y'all in Atlanta.

DOShea 10/19/2013 | 5:34:49 PM
Verizon Maybe this success for Wi-Fi is one reason the cable companies won't suffer too much heartbreak over their fizzled joint venture with Verizon.
Phil_Britt 10/18/2013 | 2:35:12 PM
Cable vs. Cell This will no doubt heighten the cable vs. cell debate. How long will users pay for a couple of data plans?


At Service Provider IT report, we will be chatting about this battle for the consumer at 2 p.m. ET Monday. Join us then. ow.ly/pUfMm


Cableco44 10/18/2013 | 2:03:06 PM
Re: WiFi Provider? To rehash some nuances, 1) the cable consortium share WAPs for each companies SSID, so where ever Comcast launched TW, OP, BH etc... are active 2) there is B/OSS activity to enable a 2nd NID on subscriber rented Wi-Fi Routers which builds the bubble bigger. 

My only other comment is how refreshing to see the improved services in Utah, Kansas, Texas.  All the more reason to pray for Google in your community or any of the other 36 FTTH/Gigabit providers.  Protecting revenue, the cable Wi-Fi Canopy in Philly (and suburb roads, fields, parks etc...) went from free, wide open to all users with an additional login to subsribers to subscribers only.  That change was up and down Jan 2012 to July 2013.  It was hit or miss.  Now it is subscribers only in most spots.
craigleddy 10/18/2013 | 1:39:26 PM
Re: WiFi Provider? Ericsson is known to be a Wi-Fi access point provider to Comcast. Ericsson, which grew its Wi-Fi presence by buying BelAir Networks in 2012, is a proponent of using in-home Wi-Fi capability to expand hot spot access in neighborhoods -- a strategy that Comcast is pursuing.

So Ericsson would be the leading candidate but I don't know for sure if the recent Comcast AP deployments are with them. Arris and Cisco are other possible candidates, and there could be a mix of suppliers. Rukus has made inroads with Time Warner Cable and no doubt would pursue Comcast too.         
Carol Wilson 10/18/2013 | 1:08:11 PM
Re: WiFi Provider? This is starting to be serious - I'm actually checking my Xfinity WiFi locator before my paid WiFi service, which means the latter is in danger of being cut off. 
albreznick 10/18/2013 | 12:46:05 PM
Re: WiFi Provider? Good question, Dan. Wish I knew. Comcast rarely reveals that. Cisco is the favorite choice. But I'll try to see what I can find out there.
DanJones 10/18/2013 | 12:11:26 PM
WiFi Provider? Any idea who the hardware provider is? This starts to get to be big business with those numbers.
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