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Wi-Fi roaming part of bigger cableco united front

30 апреля 2010

The Wi-Fi roaming deal, announced recently by Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner, is part of a far bigger picture about the collective efforts of the US cablecos to keep up with their senior telco rivals, AT&T and Verizon.

Real results from the deal seem to be off in the future though, and appear to help Cablevision most, since it already has a massive investment in Wi-Fi in the New York area (but only in that area), to compete head on with Verizon’s FiOS broadband/TV system.

The new agreement covers the tri-state area, so free access to every Wi-Fi access point supported by any of the three cablecos will be offered to all existing cable TV customers.
Cablevision is so often treated as the odd one out in cable, and goes its own way more often than its fellows, but here it owns the best Wi-Fi network in and around New York, and so it has something to tempt the other major cable players. On the other hand, it operates in the heartland of Verizon where it has provided the sharpest thorn in the side for the major telco, especially as Cablevision delivered the earliest fully blown, low priced, triple play offering.

Which is perhaps why it feels that it needs all the help it can get, by including roaming with the Connecticut and New Jersey Wi-Fi installations of Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Comcast in particular has installed Wi-Fi at around 120 train stations in New Jersey.

But all three were perhaps drawn to thinking about Wi-Fi by the continued success of the iPhone for AT&T and the arrival of the iPad, in particular its Wi-Fi only version. This deal perhaps gives the cablecos the first opportunity to appeal to owners of a major Apple platform, which is perhaps why the timing of the deal coincides with iPad availability. Sprint has had the same thought, appealing to iPad buyers to use the Wi-Fi model in conjunction with its WiMAX Overdrive personal router, which shares a mobile broadband connection between several WLAN devices.

Sprint’s interests and those of the cablecos often converge, and over time the cable operators will extend their cellular reach, based initially on Sprint’s network and then subsequently on the Clearwire broadband network in which they are all stakeholders. And then the full range of a five-points service - full mobility; the reach of a fallback, offload network, based on Wi-Fi; plus the fixed triple play of TV, broadband and home phone connection, to go with their TV Everywhere services - will see cable TV class video extend to the internet.

In fact, the use of Wi-Fi to deliver fully on a TV Everywhere dream, makes a wider roaming deal almost a certainty, with Comcast and Time Warner Cable cross-roaming right the way across their WLan networks nationally, along with other cable partners such as Charter and Cox, which could add further roaming opportunities. Whether Cablevision’s New York Wi-FI holdings will represent enough of a temptation to include it in a full national cable-only, Wi-Fi roaming collective, is yet to be seen. Perhaps some money will need to change hands for that to happen.

Finally the cable operators could extend their deals to home based Wi-Fi routers, in the style of FON, where spare capacity is sold back to the operator that provides the broadband line, in order to resell this capacity on to passing WLAN users. That step, with full roaming capacity with other cable operators, and additionally using femtocell capability to see their WiMAX network extend in the same manner, would bring the US cable offerings up to a par with US telcos, and present a viable multi-protocol alternative to the reach of the two major US RBOC based telcos.


Источник: 4G Trends

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