Ziggo’s Wi-Fi Goal: 1 Million Hotspots

Ziggo, the largest MSO in the Netherlands, has launched an ambitious national Wi-Fi plan centered on turning almost 1 million home-based wireless cable modem gateways into quasi-public hot spots.

The MSO expects to complete that part of the deployment “not later than the end of August.”  Following initial tests in Groningen, Ziggo has identified The Hague region as a second deployment location, which will harbor about 65,000 Ziggo-operated, hybrid home/community “WifiSpots.”

According to Ziggo’s rollout plan, the MSO will follow by activating about 200,000 WifiSpots in South-Holland and Groningen in May and June; 200,000 in Utrecht and North Holland in June; 150,000 in Brabant in June and July; 200,000 in Limburg and Twente in July; and 100,000 in Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel in July and August.

Those figures are based on Ziggo Wi-Fi-capable modems installed as of March 31. The MSO, which has about 3.1 million subscribers, expects that modem deployment figure to exceed 1 million by September 2013.

After a one-time registration, Ziggo’s software Wi-Fi clients in mobile devices will automatically connect to available hotspots, the MSO said. Each community WifiSpot can accommodate up to 20 simultaneous users.

Ziggo’s plan represents the leading edge of a wider cable trend whereby Wi-Fi signals in DOCSIS-powered wireless cable modem gateways are split to provide broadband access to the home subscriber and to authenticated customers who are within roaming range. The result will expand the reach of the MSO’s Wi-Fi network by combining the home-based hotspots with Wi-Fi access points installed in public areas. It also gives Ziggo customers a way to connect their smartphones, laptops and tablets without eating into their cellular data plans.

The size and scope of Ziggo’s home-as-a-hotspot plan will also be determined by how many customers choose to allow public access to their home gateway Wi-Fi signals. Citing its test in Groningen, Ziggo said less than 1 percent of customers opted out of the program.

To provide additional assurances, Ziggo said it has adapted the equipment to partition the public WifiSpot signal and the home network “so that optimum security and privacy are guaranteed.”

"We want our clients to be able to use our products outside their homes and on the move. Ziggo WifiSpots provide the technical basis that makes that possible,” said Ziggo VP of consumer products and innovation Pieter Vorvoort, in a statement. “We are currently working on several new services that will be geared to the Ziggo WifiSpots network."

Ziggo, now 12.65 percent owned by Liberty Global, also launched this video promo to illustrate the WifiSpots deployment: