Carrier WiFi

Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) apparently doesn't have the Docsis 3.0 market cornered when it comes to wireless cable modem gateway chipsets that include a community Wi-Fi feature.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) says it has also introduced software that turns those broadband devices into semi-public hotspots. Intel's Puma family of Docsis 3.0 chips "fully support hotspot and community Wi-Fi functionality," and it's already being used in U.S. and European cable systems, an Intel spokeswoman tells Light Reading Cable.

Intel's top-of-the-line Puma6 chip supports a media gateway configuration that can bond 24 downstream channels, enough to produce bursts in the neighborhood of 1Gbit/s. (See Intel's New Docsis 3.0 Chip Guns for 1-Gig .)

Community Wi-Fi is an important addition for Intel, because Broadcom, which announced its support for a the feature in Docsis 3.0 devices last week, confirmed that its new software won't work with other hardware. (See Broadcom Brings Wi-Fi Roaming to the Home and Broadcom Combines D3 With Community Wi-Fi.)

With Broadcom and Intel both on board with that feature, cable operators will be able to offer more uniform roaming broadband coverage as they think about letting cable modem gateways share Wi-Fi bandwidth between the home user and authorized customers within wireless reach. The plan there is to allow for the partitioning of bandwidth between the two sides and establish a service set identifier (SSID) for the home owner and a separate one for roamers.

By utilizing this community Wi-Fi component, operators can fill some significant residential gaps as they continue to deploy Wi-Fi access points in public areas. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Cox Communications Inc. have formed a Wi-Fi roaming alliance but have yet to announce community Wi-Fi plans for their D3 gateways. (See Cable's MVNO Option May Speed Wi-Fi Rollouts and Cable Goes Big With Wi-Fi Roaming .)

If and when they do, having Intel and Broadcom on board means that a community Wi-Fi component would be supported by the only chipmakers with Docsis 3.0 products on the market. STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM), the newcomer of the lot, isn't expected to introduce its first D3 silicon until early 2013 and has yet to identify any OEM partners for it. (See STMicro Takes On Broadcom, Intel in Docsis 3.0.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:21:08 PM
re: Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Intel isn't serving up a lot of details on how extensively that feature is being used yet in US and Europe, but would be a safe assumption. JB

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:21:08 PM
re: Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Guessing 'already being used' from Intel means in trial mode? B'com announcement on 9/7 had a quote from Ziggo CTO about a pilot. 

EuroCableGuy 12/5/2012 | 5:21:05 PM
re: Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Huh? Where have you guys been living the past couple of years?

Community Wi-Fi is deployed by several Telcos in Europe and at least by one cable operator: Zon (in Portugal). To support this feature, Wi-Fi chip sets need to support multiple SSID and L2 tunneling (and all Wi-Fi chip set suppliers do support it now). Intel & Broadcom just have integrated SW support for this feature into their respective SDK; more power to them.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:21:05 PM
re: Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Thanks for the update and insight , EuroCableGuy.  We mentioned in the first piece on this that it's already been featured by some folks in Europe and that it's also coming in response from the telcos. But I certainly  wasn't aware of the Zon example.  And we're expecting to hear more about cable's Wi-Fi activity in Europe pretty soon, so I'm looking forward to that. But this also tees up some things for the U.S. operators, too. JB


AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:21:00 PM
re: Intel's Docsis 3.0 Chips Also Do Wi-Fi Sharing

Could be further along in U.S. This TWC Wi-Fi hot spot map of LA was mentioned in a Broadcom IBC-related post last week. (Thanks, Brian Wheeler.)

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