There are more than 310 million Internet users in North America, according to Internet World Stats, representing a nearly 88 percent population penetration. More than ever, Americans are accustomed to moving freely about the country, so offering “everywhere access” to the Internet is quickly becoming a necessity.
The CableWiFi Alliance offers a cooperative solution to the high demand for constant connectivity. The cable industry is responding to customer needs by providing the best Internet experience. CableWiFi launched in May 2012, and participating operators are continuing to expand the number of Wi-Fi hotspots. In a little more than two years, CableWiFi’s members (Comcast, Bright House, Cox, Optimum, and Time Warner Cable) have deployed more than 300,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
Access is available in major U.S. cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Orlando, Tampa, Kansas City, Austin, and Charlotte. A customer can check his or her provider’s website for a nationwide coverage map.
This massive partner network comprises both indoor and outdoor hotspots located in high-traffic locations such as shopping districts, cafés, malls, sports and concert arenas, restaurants, parks, and beaches. A subscriber can find the nearest hotspot either by visiting the Wi-Fi homepage or by using the service provider’s Wi-Fi Finder app on his or her mobile device.
Some MSOs also have begun to open up secondary SSID signals in home-side gateways—sometimes called “homespots”—that give authenticated cable subscribers expanded access while they are on the go. This network expansion is an innovation that has stirred up some controversy—as service provider customers have expressed concern that their home modems can be accessed by other customers for public Internet use.
What other innovations can cable operators introduce to further expand their network reach through Wi-Fi?