Last week’s Cable Show in Los Angeles was rife with Wi-Fi announcements, but even bigger days may be ahead with the rapid adoption of Hotspot 2.0.
According to a recent report by Infonetics Research, Hotspot 2.0 is the next big item on the Wi-Fi checklist, along with the monetization of Wi-Fi services. Hotspot 2.0, which is also known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, allows mobile devices to automatically join a Wi-Fi network based upon preferences and network optimization whenever the user enters a Hotspot 2.0-enabled area.
To date, Time Warner Cable is the only large cable operator to tap into Hotspot 2.0. Time Warner Cable recently announced it was using Hotspot 2.0 throughout Southern California, New York City, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Myrtle Beach and Hawaii.
There’s no question that Wi-Fi services are fast becoming a cornerstone of large cable operators’ services, but the monetization side still needs some work.
“Carrier Wi-Fi deployments are evolving to deliver the same quality of experience as mobile and fixed-line broadband service environments, and this is driving Wi-Fi networks to become more closely integrated. Hotspot 2.0, a key tool developed by the industry to aid this drive, shows rapid adoption by carriers participating in our latest carrier Wi-Fi survey,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research. “Operators are betting pretty big on carrier Wi-Fi, but they’re also keen to develop ways of monetizing services so that Wi-Fi starts to pay for itself over the coming years. Wi-Fi roaming and location-based services are examples of customer plans that are growing fast.”
Other highlights from the Infonetics survey included:
• Respondents had an average of around 32,000 access points, growing to just over 44,000 by 2015, representing 33 percent growth over the next year
• Among operator respondents, 40 percent expected to integrate Hotspot 2.0 into more than half of their access points by the end of 2015
• Among those surveyed, the top-three monetization models for Wi-Fi services were pre-pay, bundled with mobile broadband subscription, and tiered hotspots
• Wi-Fi as a separate overlay network currently leads the list of technologies and architectures for offloading data traffic; meanwhile, more sophisticated carrier Wi-Fi architectures gain gradual traction as respondents look to bring Wi-Fi into the mobile RAN via SIM-based service models or by deploying dual-mode Wi-Fi/small cells
• Cisco and Ruckus Wireless were perceived as the top carrier Wi-Fi manufacturers for the second consecutive year.
Last week, Comcast announced it was targeting 8 million hotspots across its network by the end of the year. Also last week, the CableWiFi Alliance, which is comprised of Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, announced it had more than 250,000 access points across the nation.