Cable consolidation could spell change for growing Wi-Fi industry

Now that Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) killed its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) acquisition of Bright House Networks--which was contingent on the Comcast deal going through--is up in the air, speculation on the next round of consolidation is well underway in the cable industry.

What if Charter goes after Time Warner Cable? Buying Time Warner Cable would give Charter a substantial Wi-Fi offering. Time Warner Cable boasts 90,000 access points that are live in large metropolitan areas that include Los Angeles and New York City. Charter also would benefit from Time Warner Cable adding Hotspot 2.0/Passpoint capabilities, which allows users to access hotspots without having to sign in each time, to most of its access points last year, as well as possibly taking advantage of the bilateral Passpoint roaming agreement that Time Warner Cable has enabled with Boingo Wireless.

"If we're speculating on whether Charter pulls the trigger on the Time Warner Cable deal, I think there's no question that Wi-Fi goes to the top of the priority list in terms of the new services they will offer," said Jeff Heynen, research director, broadband access and pay TV, Infonetics Research." That's just one possible scenario, however. For more on the future of the cable Wi-Fi industry, check out this FierceCable special report.