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.