Cable operators Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Liberty Global will allow one another's customers to roam on their respective Wi-Fi hotspots in the United States and Europe starting in 2015. The MSOs said they will first trial the Wi-Fi roaming service later this year.
Comcast counts in excess of 3 million Xfinity WiFi-brand hotspots in the U.S., while Liberty Global has more than 2.5 million Wi-Fi home spots under the Wi-Free and WifiSpots names in various European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and Switzerland.
The companies said their pact will give many of the 11 million Americans visiting Europe and the 12 million Europeans visiting the United States each year "a free alternative to cellular data roaming."'
"We are delighted to join forces with Comcast to begin building worldwide Wi-Fi connectivity and we hope that this will create interest from other cable operators to join us," said Balan Nair, executive vice president and CTO at Liberty Global, which is headquartered in Denver.
"This is our first step in bringing global Wi-Fi connectivity to our customers," said Tom Nagel, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Philadelphia-based Comcast.
The companies did not discuss whether or not Hotspot 2.0 technology might be used to make their cross-network roaming seamless and automatic.
Liberty Global recently joined the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), whose mission includes enabling Wi-Fi interoperability and roaming. Comcast is an existing member.
Comcast earlier signed trial partnerships reportedly signed earlier this year with Japan's KDDI and Taiwan Mobile, allowing customers of the Asian operators to access Xfinity WiFi hotspots when visiting the United States.
- see this joint release
Special Report: The top 5 reasons cable operators are making big bets on Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi group attracts cable companies Charter, Liberty Global as new members
Comcast extends Wi-Fi roaming to KDDI, Taiwan Mobile