Cable industry could see big fortunes in Wi-Fi

One of the most buzzed-about topics in 2014 was the cable industry's wide embrace of Wi-Fi. While it's difficult for industry analysts to pinpoint the eventual size of the cable Wi-Fi business, it's clearly growing like gangbusters.

Consider this: Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), which analysts believe is best positioned to profit on the cable Wi-Fi boon, only started publicly talking about the business over the spring. As of September, Comcast controlled about 4.6 million of the 6 million cable Wi-Fi hotspots in the U.S., the bulk of them coming in the form of dual routers that are embedded with a second SSID.

Attitudes are changing about the role of Wi-Fi as well. "The time is coming when Wi-Fi will shift from being a 'secondary' network to being a primary one. Instead of thinking of Wi-Fi as an alternative to cellular everywhere Wi-Fi is available, we will instead to begin to think of cellular as a backup network needed only when Wi-Fi is not," noted MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett. For more on the cable industry's future in Wi-Fi, check out this special feature by FierceCable Editor Daniel Frankel.