Comcast, which uses the service set identifier (SSID) "xfinitywifi," is providing access to the wireless network for free as a perk for its cable modem subscribers. Comcast is also offering non-subs two complimentary 60-minute sessions through the end of the year. The MSO also sells access: $2.95 per hour, $7.95 per day, or $19.95 per week. Comcast is also pitching longer-term access, including a six-month pass for $29.99.
Comcast said it's already installed and activated a "few thousand" hot spots in California and expects to install more in the Golden State throughout the year. Here's the orbital view of Comcast's current Wi-Fi footprint in California:
It was not immediately known which vendors are participating in Comcast's California deployment, but Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ruckus Wireless Inc. have been getting the lion's share of cable Wi-Fi wins lately.
Update: At this phase of the deployment cycle in California, Comcast says it's using outdoor Wi-Fi units from Ericsson (nee BelAir Networks), and Cisco modems and BelAir/Ericsson routers for indoor Wi-Fi deployments in small- and medium-sized business locations. But the company also says that it's always evaluating new products, so more vendors may be added to the mix as deployments expand. (See Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy .)
Why this matters
The launch marks the latest expansion of Comcast's Wi-Fi network, following earlier deployments in Boston, greater Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and parts of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. Those sites factor into a new cable Wi-Fi roaming pact that currently involves Comcast, Bright House Networks , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).
Those MSOs also have the opportunity to complement their outdoor Wi-Fi networks and fill in gaps using new software that turns Docsis 3.0 wireless gateways into quasi-public hot spots. (See Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing and Broadcom Brings Wi-Fi Roaming to the Home .)
These Wi-Fi efforts will also help the cable operators further their mobile backhaul interests while also staying competitive with telcos such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which likewise been aggressive in deploying complementary Wi-Fi networks.
And this strategy is not solely about wireless data. Comcast, for example, has developed Voice2Go, an app that lets customers place free phone calls via Wi-Fi. (See Comcast Gives Wi-Fi a Voice .)
- Comcast Goes Bigger With Wi-Fi
- Cable Goes Big With Wi-Fi Roaming
- Cable's MVNO Option May Speed Wi-Fi Rollouts
- TW Cable's Wi-Fi Rolls With Ruckus
- Bright House Lights Up Wi-Fi in Florida
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable