The lightning-quick emergence of cable's carrier-grade Wi-Fi business is well timed, given the ongoing degradation of the business that built the cable industry, video services. Analysts predict cable Wi-Fi will grow, in about three years time, to become the primary mobile network, ahead of cellular. But what will the economics of these networks look like?
The year 2014 may be remembered as one of the most transformational in the history of the cable business. While the sustained growth of video services has begun to give way to over-the-top distribution, a massive opportunity with unknown dimensions has quietly emerged.
This year may be remembered as one of the most transformational in the history of the cable business--and not because of huge pending mergers. While video services are beginning to give way to over-the-top distribution, a big opportunity has emerged in Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping to give Wi-Fi-only service providers a boost by including a number of new features into its Passpoint certification program.
The FCC is letting it be known that it's not going to put up with Wi-Fi blockers, at least not when it comes to the Marriott hotel chain and facilities in Nashville, Tenn.
The importance of Wi-Fi to cable operators, mobile carriers and telcos is evidenced by the list of 14 companies joining the Wireless Broadband Alliance, whose mission includes enabling Wi-Fi interoperability and roaming. The group said the new members "have joined its efforts to unite the ecosystem and progress the development of carrier Wi-Fi throughout the world."
NTT DoCoMo has announced that it is offering a "premium" public Wi-Fi service, with a maximum speed of 72 Mbps, to travelers within Japan on a trial basis.
Cablevision said earlier this year it would reach some 1 million public Wi-Fi access points by the end of 2014. The cable MSO beat its forecast by five months, announcing it has already reached that 1 million hotspot goal.
Martin Walsh, the mayor of Boston, has proposed spending $10.75 million over a five-year period to expand the city's existing fiber-optic cable network to bring broadband Internet service to 100 additional schools and boost backhaul for public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The free Wi-Fi hotspots being rolled out across the nation by AT&T and Comcast help ease the consumption of cellular data, while providing better network speeds than what is typically delivered over 4G connection.