Comcast Marches Toward 1 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots

Comcast said it is closing in on 1 million quasi-public hotspots deployed after standing up about 50,000 access points in Illinois, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.

Comcast said it plans to deploy “hundreds of thousands” more this year in the region over the next several months.

Those numbers include hotspots deployed in outdoor public areas and business locations that are part of a network operated by the “CableWiFi” roaming consortium (other members include Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications), as well as “Xfinity WiFi Neighborhood Hotspots” that are provided through the broadcast of a separate “XfinityWiFi” SSID signals in customer DOCSIS wireless gateways.

Currently, only Comcast customers have access to the new home-as-a-hotspot signals, which the MSO began to light up last June. The MSOs behind the CableWiFi initiative have deployed more than 200,000 hotspots. Comcast is only disclosing its total WiFi hotspot deployments, and is not breaking out how many are being applied to the cross-MSO  roaming initiative and how many are coming way of its neighborhood hotspot project.

Comcast has proactively swapped in about 8 million Wi-Fi-capable gateways, Comcast vice chairman and CFO Michael Angelakis said Tuesday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, according to this transcript.

As an opt-out initiative, Comcast’s community hotspot initiative poses a customer education challenge for the operator as it allays fears that the public-facing feature represents a security threat or that the additional SSID signal affects the throughput of the subscriber's home broadband connection.

Broadly speaking, Wi-Fi has become a central cog in the U.S. cable industry’s wireless broadband strategy.  Comcast, Charter Communications, and Time Warner Cable are among the backers of WiFiForward, a coalition that aims to apply more pressure on the government to free up more unlicensed spectrum toward the use of Wi-Fi.