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John Solit

@johnsolit

May 7, 2014


Technology & Devices

Cable Wi-Fi Hotspots Grow, Speeds Explode, and Gigasphere is Born

@johnsolit

May 7, 2014

As expected, the cable industry’s evolving Internet platform was a major theme at the 2014 Cable Show.

Wi-Fi in particular has become one of the most important and fastest growing technologies of the Internet era, and now carries more data than either mobile or wired networks.  Revealed at The Cable Show was that for eligible cable broadband customers, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots available through the Cable Wi-Fi Alliance has reached 250,000.  To put the pace of growth in perspective, we announced on this blog in September that the alliance had hit 200,000 hotspots. That’s a 25 percent jump in about six months.

This blossoming Wi-Fi network is more than just added value to cable customers – it’s a strong bid for the future of how consumers will be connected. As computers become smaller and more pocket-sized, fast, ubiquitous Wi-Fi connections are becoming a necessity. That’s why cable is working now to establish a broad foundation for easily accessible high-speed Wi-Fi.

On the wired network side, an important but often overlooked aspect of connecting consumers is talking about services in a friendly way. That is why the industry revealed it’s replacing the term DOCSIS 3.1 — the actual name of a technology spec that will drive speeds into multi-gigabit territory – with “Gigasphere.”  Gigasphere technology will support broadband speeds up to 10 Gbps and utilize new network management technology to aid traffic congestion. Of the new name, Michael Powell, NCTA President and CEO said, “Gigasphere stands for incredibly fast access to the Web, the world, and the things that matter most to broadband users.”

Speaking of blistering speeds, Cox Communications announced that the company would soon offer gigabit broadband speeds to residential customers. Cox President and CEO Pat Esser said that gigabit speeds are on the road map for 2014 and it will take advantage of a robust business services infrastructure that already exists for ramping up home Internet speeds.

At The Cable Show, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler shared his thoughts on how to judge the state of cable, saying we need to think of technology and competition less as a snapshot in time and more as a moving picture. It seems from the technology announcements at The Cable Show, the direction cable is going is towards easier access, more speed, and fewer acronyms.