If now is the time for cable operators to start monetizing WiFi, then let the discussion begin.
With the US cable industry having set up more than 12 million WiFi access points throughout the nation, cable operators are now switching their focus to how they can make some real money off their swiftly growing wireless assets. In the greater New York metro area, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has already launched Freewheel, a fledgling WiFi-only talk, text and data service. Other MSOs, such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Bright House Networks , are reportedly exploring a WiFi-First strategy that would employ cellular service as a backup option to their main WiFi offerings. (See Comcast Weighs WiFi Plans and Cablevision Wheels Out Freewheel Across US.)
But, as we're spelling out in a series of blogs sponsored by Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), much work remains to be done before cable WiFi can hold its own and compete fully against cellular service. As mentioned, cable operators should look at embracing WiFi technical standards, upgrading their wireless networks to carrier-grade levels, overhauling and operationalizing their back-office systems and improving their customers' quality-of-experience (QoE), among other measures. But all of these moves are easier said than done. (See How to Monetize WiFi (Part 1).)
To dive deeper into these issues, Light Reading is staging a special breakfast roundtable on WiFi at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans next week. The panel will feature senior executives from at least one major US MSO, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), as well as WiFi experts from the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) and our four vendor/sponsors -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Amdocs, NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT) and Viavi Solutions Inc. . The speaker lineup includes: Robert Cerbone, VP, Broadband Services - Wireless, Residential Services, for Time Warner Cable; Steve Harris, Director of Advanced Technologies for SCTE; Scott Pettygrove, Director of WiFi Products at Viavi; Jeffrey Valley, Senior Director of IP Consulting Engineering for Alcatel-Lucent; Ann Hatchell, Head of Network Marketing for Amdocs; and Jeff Templeton, Sales Engineering Director for NetScout.
The free breakfast session will be light on slide presentations but heavy on discussion, debate and advice for cable operators seeking to maximize their WiFi investments or weighing whether to make that investment in the first place. We will delve into the opportunities that operators have, the challenges that they face and the ways that they can overcome these challenges.
The breakfast starts unusually bright and early at 6:30 a.m., with the panel discussion beginning just 15 minutes later. But the coffee will be percolating and the bacon will be sizzling. So please join us in Conference Room 271-273 of the convention hall. We'll be looking for you.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading