Comcast Expanding WiFi Network - Analyst Blog
Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), the largest cable MSO (multi service operator) in the U.S., is aggressively expanding its WiFi home hotspots network. WiFi has become the major source of Comcast to offer wireless services to subscribers. At the end of 2013, the company had over 350,000 WiFi home hotspots and plans to achieve 1 million WiFi connections activation in 2014.
In 2013, Comcast sold the wireless spectrums it horded through the SpectrumCo venture to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). After that, the company is emphasizing on WiFi home hotspot network to offer wireless services. Comcast currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Large cable MSOs together with several major IT firms and telecom organizations has formed an alliance to free up spectrums in order to expand WiFi support network in Washington D.C. The major participants in this alliance called “WifiForward” include cable TV operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications, IT firms Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft Corp., and telecom organization Consumer Electronics Association, among others.
“WifiForward” aims to protect and strengthen existing unlicensed spectrums, free up new spectrums to use at several different frequency bands and establish rules to encourage growth and deployment of WiFi networks. Research firm WeFi Inc. reported that the number of commercial WiFi hotspots is expected to reach 10.55 million in 2018 in the U.S. Earlier, WeFi had reported that the amount of mobile data offloaded in WiFi networks jumped a tremendous 875% in the U.S. in 2013.
Sharing of WiFi networks by cable TV operators is not new in the U.S. In 2012, five cable large TV operators created a web access network called “CableWiFi”. The firms include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC.
Subscribers of these cable MSOs can access the Internet through laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices through a nationwide shared network of more than 250,000 public WiFi hotspots in metro areas also allows the subscribers to access the Internet from any location.
Cable MSOs throughout the U.S. are facing intense competition from telecom operators, satellite TV providers and online video streaming service providers. Roaming WiFi connectivity is likely to become a huge opportunity for cable MSOs to minimize their respective customer churn rate. In addition to retail consumers, the business enterprises are likely to become major growth accelerator for mobile WiFi hotspot.
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