Cable MSOs are planning a big push into the Wi-Fi space as a way to extend their broadband footprint and add more value to their cable packages. According to a research report from Heavy Reading, U.S. cable firms will deploy more than 250,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by mid-2014, an increase of more than 60 percent on the current installed base.
According to Heavy Reading, the cable industry has already spent more than $175 million in deploying Wi-Fi hotspots, and that will likely double to $350 million by mid-2014. Currently, the cable companies have deployed about 174,000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the United States, which is up from the 150,000-plus hotspots deployed by the members of the CableWiFi roaming alliance, which includes Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks.
The cable industry's aggressive movement into Wi-Fi isn't surprising. Over the past few months, major cable companies like Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Cox have all made announcements about plans to deploy Wi-Fi in their service areas.
For wireless operators, the cable industry's growing Wi-Fi footprint could be used for Wi-Fi offloading. However, some believe that the cable industry's widespread deployment of Wi-Fi networks coupled with new roaming technologies could disrupt the current wireless marketplace.
Last month, Jefferies analyst Thomas Seitz wrote in a research note that he believes the cable industry will enter the wireless market in a disruptive, Wi-Fi/MVNO manner. These efforts, he said, coupled with Passpoint Hotspot 2.0 technology that supports cellular-Wi-Fi roaming, could allow cable companies to cut into a wireless industry currently dominated by the likes of AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) as early as next year.
- see this Heavy Reading report
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