Shaw Communications has reached out to the CableWiFi alliance to express its interest in becoming a peer to the consortium in Canada.
If Shaw gains entry, it would add its 40,000 hotspots, which are spread throughout Western Canada between Victoria and Sault Ste. Marie, to CableWiFi’s more than 250,000 access points that are located across the U.S.
A spokesman for Shaw said there were no additional details on Shaw joining the CableWiFi alliance, which consists of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks.
The CableWiFi consortium was a pioneering effort back when it was first announced at The Cable Show two years ago. At that time, the alliance had 50,000 hotspots under its belt, and during last year’s show the number had reached 150,000. The NCTA tracks and releases the number of Wi-Fi hotspots available to members of the consortium.
Shaw has the largest Wi-Fi network in Canada. Three years ago, Shaw scrapped its plans to build an advanced LTE network in favor of building its own carrier grade Shaw Go WiFi network.
Wi-Fi has been a godsend for cable operators and they are actively looking for new ways to partner up with other entities to expand the service into more locations. Time Warner Cable signed a bilateral roaming agreement with Boingo earlier this year that gives each of their respective users access to each other’s hotspots.
Adding more Wi-Fi partners, such as Starbucks, makes sense for cable operators since roaming agreements are less costly than deploying more of their own access points.
Earlier this year, Comcast confirmed it was in a Wi-Fi trail with two Asian cellular operators, Japan's KDDI and Taiwan Mobile, that allows their subscribers to access Comcast’s Wi-Fi hotspots when they’re in the United States. That trial enables the subscribers from the Asian carriers to save money on their wireless data plans by using Comcast’s Wi-Fi access points instead of paying international roaming fees for their data usage.
The CableWiFi agreement lets subscribers log into a Wi-Fi service when they are out of their own provider’s footprint by looking for the CableWiFi network SSID. Once they authenticate themselves, using the same information they use on their own cable provider’s network, their devices will auto-connect to a CableWiFi hotspot whenever they are in range.
The CableWiFi network offers indoor and outdoor hotspots located in high-traffic areas such as shopping districts, cafés, malls, sports and concert arenas, restaurants, parks and beaches. Customers are able to find the nearest hotspot either by visiting their service provider’s Wi-Fi homepage or by downloading their provider’s Wi-Fi Finder app to their mobile device.