Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Cox Communications announced today that it launched more than 1,700 additional WiFi hotspots for Cox Internet customers in the Phoenix and Las Vegas this month. The latest Cox WiFi hotspots bring CoxWiFi service to six markets to date with many more planned for 2015, including hundreds of hotspots in San Diego after the first of the year.

In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.

Only Cox customers who subscribe to the Preferred Internet Package ($49/mo for the first 12 months) or higher have free access to the CableWiFi network. Comcast offers a similar “deal” for access to the joint cable WiFi network offered across the country.

CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

If Comcast’s strategy is to take over the lower 5GHz band with “free” public WiFi (for cable modem subscribers), they’ll have competition from T-Mobile US which wants to “privatize” as much as 500 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band for “unlicensed LTE, aka LTE-U.

The unlicensed 5GHz spectrum in the US is divided into mainly three different bands with different RF requirements. The three main 5 GHz bands are:

  1. U-NII-1 (5150-5250MHz) – now with increased (250mW) of conducted power with radiated power up to 1 watt for mobile devices and conducted power up to 1 watt and radiated power up to 4 watts for access points.
  2. U-NII-2 (5250-5725MHz)
  3. U-NII-3 (5725-5850MHz).
    The FCC consolidated the provisions for operation at 1 watt in the 5.725-5.85 GHz band into the U-NII rules under § 15.407.

The 5350-5470MHz segment in UNII-2 is restricted from usage by FCC. In addition, the 60MHz in 5590-5650MHz are currently blocked by FCC due to potential Terminal Doppler Weather Radar Interference.

The carrier-focused LTE-U Forum hopes to use the unlicensed 5 GHz UNII-1 and UNII-3 bands for their LTE service, in conjunction with licensed LTE.

Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”

A spokesperson at T-Mobile confirmed the plan to use 5 GHz unlicensed technology to FierceWirelessTech, although the timing remains unclear.

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:


According to Ruckus Wireless, a recent survey of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of business, commissioned by Devicescal, found [to nobody’s surprise] that providing free Wi-Fi is good business for increasing:

  • Customer foot traffic
  • The time spent on premises (and most importantly),
  • The amount customers spend.
  • The study focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops, and salons.

A good night’s sleep isn’t as important as good hotel Internet connectivity, according to a recent report.

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network. Ruckus Wireless gathered a bunch of interesting WiFi stats in a holiday-themed slide show.

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time.

Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.

How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 at 11:11 am .

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