Cable Show: 'CableWiFi' MSOs Hit New Deployment Mark

The CableWiFi Alliance -- the roaming partnership of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications – announced Monday that it had surpassed 250,000 hotspots deployed.

That’s 50,000 more than the last cited milestone, and 100,000 more than the 150,000 the group announced at last year’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C. Those MSOs had about 50,000 WiFi hotspots deployed when the alliance was unveiled in May 2012.

Members of the CableWiFi Alliance have deployed wireless broadband networks in several markets, including New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Orlando; Tampa; Kansas City; Austin; and Charlotte, among others.

Although there are indications that these MSOs might use their growing WiFi networks to  support a hybrid WiFi/cellular mobile voice service, they are using it today primarily as a value add for cable modem subscribers who need broadband connectivity on the go. In addition to using their own MSO-branded WiFi SSIDs, gear deployed by MSO alliance members have been expanding the use of a new “CableWiFi” SSID that can be accessed by credentialed high-speed Internet subscribers. Once authenticated, devices will auto-connect to other CableWiFi hotspots when in range.

"In today's hyper-connected world, WiFi hotspots have become one of the most important and fastest growing technologies of the Internet era," Michael Powell, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) president and CEO, said in a statement. "With 250,000 WiFi hotspots now available to millions of cable broadband customers at no additional charge, the value and reach of cable's robust Internet service increases significantly.  The cable industry is committed to providing American consumers with the best Internet experience and the growth of the CableWiFi Alliance is delivering on that promise."

In addition to quasi-public WiFi hotspots at business and outdoor venues, MSOs such as Comcast have begun to turn home-side gateways into neighborhood hotspots that broadcast a secondary "XfinityWiFi" SSID that is accessable to the MSO's broadband customers.