WiFi Spreads Like Wildfire

Need more proof that WiFi is spreading like wildfire throughout the US? Three recent news stories provide ample evidence.

First up, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has reached a deal with Spanish startup Fon to offer joint WiFi hotspot access to customers of both companies. FON subscribers gain access to AT&T's 30,000 hotspots in the US, while AT&T users gain roaming access to "hundreds of thousands" of FON hotspots around the globe.

FON was a pioneer in 2006 when it began creating a community of hotspots built on shared bandwidth from subscriber home routers. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced a similar program at The Cable Show earlier this year. (See Comcast Turns Homes Into Hotspots.)

Speaking of US cable companies, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is reporting that cable providers now operate 200,000 public WiFi hotspots across the country. These hotspots are free for cable subscribers, but also offer operators a chance to sell broadband access to non-cable-customers as a way to bring in new revenue. Heavy Reading predicts the number of cable WiFi hotspots will jump to 250,000 by mid-2014. (See Cable Wi-Fi on a Hot Streak.)

Finally, ABI Research reports that shipments of WiFi access points are on their way up. Thanks to the growing number of hotspots deployed by both cable and telecom companies, ABI predicts that carrier WiFi access point shipments will reach 9.7 million by 2018.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

albreznick 10/1/2013 | 2:11:04 PM
Re: AT&T's not that Fon And maybe Fon will throw in Lithuania or Macedonia too.
Sarah Thomas 10/1/2013 | 1:13:14 PM
Re: AT&T's not that Fon ha, I'm not sure why those two countries or, more importantly why only those two countries. I wonder what the terms of the deal were. Most be good money for AT&T to let Fon in. And, it makes for good marketing for AT&T, even if it is pretty sneaky marketing.
albreznick 10/1/2013 | 11:47:50 AM
Re: AT&T's not that Fon Poland and Portugal, eh? What's the sense in that? Could it be that AT&T has a lot of Portuguese and Polish immigrants as WiFi customers? Might be plausible in Chicago, i suppose. :)
albreznick 10/1/2013 | 11:44:49 AM
Re: How hot are those spots, anyway Well, I guess the simple answer is that some residential subscribers are hotter than others, Dennis.

Seriously, though, that's what Comcast's plan calls for. And it's already being done in Europe. I'll let Mari expound upon its virtues.
mendyk 10/1/2013 | 10:57:33 AM
How hot are those spots, anyway Are residential subscribers really being counted as hotspots? That sounds like a stretch. Unless Uncle Stash invites me into his house for pierogi, will I really have access to his WiFi in Warsaw?
Sarah Thomas 10/1/2013 | 10:15:23 AM
AT&T's not that Fon I was disappointed in the AT&T/Fon partnership. It's a good deal for Fon to get into the US, but AT&T customers only get access to 400,000 WiFi hotspots in Portugal and 400,000 in Poland, so it's pretty limited. Plus, you have to pay for an add-on international data plan to get WiFi access. So it's expensive and limited. Ugh, every time I want to celebrate something AT&T does, there turns out to be big loopholes.

Here's the story: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=705791
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