DENVER -- With cable operators rapidly rolling out WiFi throughout the world, US MSOs stand poised to reach a major deployment milestone by the beginning of next year.
In a fresh forecast presented at a Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) breakfast hosted here by Light Reading Tuesday, Heavy Reading predicted that US cable operators will roll out 10 million WiFi hotspots by early 2015, a huge jump from a mere 250,000 at the close of 2013. Heavy Reading also projected that this number will continue to soar over the next few years as cable operators blanket their regions with both public and private access points. (See TWC Not Ready for Community WiFi.)
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) lead the way today with 4.6 million and 1 million hotspots deployed, respectively, due largely to their focus on community WiFi, or home hotspots. Using dual-signal wireless gateways that create a second, matching public hotspot in each broadband subscriber's home or office, these two MSOs should account for more than 9 million hotspots combined by the end of this year.
But Comcast and Cablevision are not alone. Other large US MSOs, such as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Charter Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks , are now scrambling to catch up. Heavy Reading estimates that these four cable companies will account for more than a collective 100,000 hotspots by the end of the year.
Despite the reluctance of MSOs like TW Cable to follow the example of Comcast and Cablevision right now, Heavy Reading predicts that other US cable operators will fall in line over the next couple of years shortly and start deploying community WiFi in their territories as well. As a result, the Light Reading research division sees US cable WiFi hotspots doubling to 20 million by the end of 2015 and jumping again to 35 million by the close of 2016 and 50 million by the close of 2017. By then, Heavy Reading figures, nearly every broadband home and office in the nation will be outfitted with a powerful, dual-signal wireless gateway.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading