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October 28, 2013

Comcast exec: Cable operators may deploy 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots


By Tammy Parker

It is no secret that U.S. cable TV operators are  jumping into Wi-Fi big time, and one industry executive is forecasting they could collectively deploy and run half a million Wi-Fi hotspots in the near future.

The prediction came from David Don, Comcast's executive director-regulatory and public affairs, who did not specify a timeline, according to Multichannel News. However, the executive, who spoke during the fifth annual Institute for Policy Innovation Communications (IPI) Summit in Washington, D.C., observed that the cable industry's existing 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots indicate the industry's overall commitment to wireless broadband access.

In addition to using Wi-Fi to leverage cable operators' growing broadband footprint, Don noted their Wi-Fi hotspots could be useful in "off-loading cellular congestion."

The Comcast executive also touted the need for "a balanced spectrum policy that includes unlicensed spectrum."

Speaking during another session at the IPI conference, Charla Rath, vice president of wireless policy development at Verizon, indicated telcos are increasingly concerned about the slow reallocation of broadcast airwaves for licensed wireless broadband. "There's a need to get spectrum out there now,"  she said.

Differing points of view on spectrum issues as well as growing rivalries between telcos and cable providers may have led Verizon Wireless and its cable partners Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to recently terminate the joint innovation lab they had created after Verizon agreed to buy spectrum from the cable companies in December 2011.


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