Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

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.

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

BT Plans to Buy UK’s EE

BT, formerly known as British Telecom, is poised to buy UK mobile operator EE for £12.5bn, if Ofcom and other watchdog agencies approve the deal, reports C/Net. Under the terms of the proposed deal, EE’s owners Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange would take a 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively, according to the BBC.

EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, is a partnership between Gemany’s Deutsche Telekom and French company Orange, BT would become the owner of the UK’s biggest mobile phone operator and the most established 4G network, potentially adding 24.5m mobile customers.

The potential deal is subject to regulatory approval by competition authorities.

BT was considering snapping up either EE or O2. In November, BT announced the company was in preliminary talks to buy back the O2 brand for £6 billion. BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place, but doesn’t currently have a mobile presence. EE now dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. EE’s LTE spectrum portfolio is also stronger than O2’s.

If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place. EE dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.

“With its fixed-line and TV assets,” industry analyst Kester Mann of CCS Insight told CNET recently, BT “could assume a very dominant position. Rivals such as TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and Vodafone will be concerned.”

Vodafone, a British multinational telecommunications company headquartered in London, is the world’s 3rd-largest mobile telecommunications company, behind China Mobile and SingTel, with 434 million subscribers as of 31 March 2014. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 21 countries.

EE was formed in 2009 by the merger of Orange, owned by France Telecom, and T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom. The two European companies have held a 50/50 stake.

The EE television service will offer 70 Freeview channels, a 24-hour replay service and extra on-demand and catch-up TV channels, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Daily Motion and Wuaki.tv. The set-top box contains a one terabyte (TB) hard disk, which the firm said could store up to 25 days worth of standard definition content and five days worth of high-definition shows.

“Today we’re taking EE somewhere completely new. We’re going to introduce EE TV, a personal TV that puts mobile at heart of the home TV experience,” EE CEO Olaf Swantee said.

The service will be free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages, but will cost from £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers. The replay and recording features help in differentiating it from similar offerings by BT or Netflix. Vodafone has also been pursuing a similar quadplay strategy in other European markets.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media and BT, which will reportedly launch consumer mobile services in the first quarter of the next year.

BT’s plan is to undercut mobile operators by enabling calls and data use via its 5.4 million wifi hotspots instead of 4G networks. BT also bought a ton of 2.6 GHz spectrum in the UK’s auction last year, as did Vodafone and EE.

Some 13 years ago, BT spun off their cellular holdings to O2. BT is now expected to entice customers by offering full packages covering broadband, TV, mobile and fixed line phone services using its 2.6 GHz frequency, and re-enter the consumer mobile market.

The UK has decided to break the 190 MHz-wide band of 2.6 GHz frequencies into two groups, 140 MHz of paired frequencies and 50 MHz of unpaired.

United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:

Related Dailywireless articles include; EE UK: Quad Play Video Service, UK Auction Winner Announced, UK Begins 800/2.6GHz Auction Process, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi,

NYC: Free Phone and WiFi at 10,000 Payphones

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced this week that CityBridge will develop and operate up to 10,000 802.11ac access points for New York City’s LinkNYC. It promises to be the largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world.

Public pay telephones will be replaced with WiFi hotspots where residents can make free phone calls in the U.S. and get free 24/7 Internet access. Advertisng will pay for it. The plan is to make ads relevant and contextually-driven in the dense population of Manhattan.

A particular kiosk could change the ad it’s displaying based on what time of day it is, what events are happening nearby, or even potentially what sorts of people are walking by it, at least in a broad demographic sense. In order to ensure equity among all five boroughs and live up to the promise of bringing wireless access to all New York neighborhoods, these units will need to branch into areas currently not highly sought after by advertisers.

The payphone RFP began in 2012 when DoITT issued a Request for Information (RFI) about the future of the payphone.

CityBridge is the consortium of companies that will build the project and includes Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group. CityBridge’s extended team includes Transit Wireless, Antenna Design as well as a (rumored) Ruckus Wireless,. Transit Wireless would be primarily responsible for the fiber infrastructure and is providing the wireless and Wi-Fi technology for 279 underground subway stations in NYC.

A spokeswoman told FierceWirelesTech that CityBridge was unable to comment on Ruckus’ role in the project. The city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications spokesman could not immediately confirm Ruckus’ participation. A spokesman for Ruckus Wireless would not comment.

Ruckus offers dual-band 802.11ac outdoor access points (AP) designed explicitly for high density public venues. Its Smart Wi-Fi equipment is Passpoint certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is being used to power the Hotspot 2.0 service across both San Jose and San Francisco Wi-Fi networks.

“LinkNYC is an initiative that could only be made in New York – it harnesses the latest technologies and it is a true partnership of the world’s leaders in technology, telecommunications, advertising and design,” said Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York.

Of course lots of cities, including San Jose and others have tried free WiFi. Now, however, technology may have caught up with the vision. Utilizing Hotspot 2.0 (Passport) could allow multiple carriers and Wireless ISPs to use the service for seamless roaming, while smartphones and tablets have provided an insatiable hunger for more bandwidth. Beamforming and Multi-User MIMO will increase range and capacity. Bluetooth and WiFi tracking allow targeted advertising.

But NYC’s “free WiFi” plan could be politically naive. Ad beacons, “supercookies”, and big data could delay or possibly kill any proposal in the current climate of distrust.

Related articles on Dailywireless include; Reinvent Pay Phones, Ruckus Unwires San Jose Airport and Convention Center, Google Fiber Going Wireless?, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Qualcomm Annouces Proximity Beacons, Apple’s iBeacon: Location via Bluetooth 4.0, Small Cells for Cisco, Sprint to use Light Radio for Small Cells, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud,New Outdoor & Indoor 11ac Access Points from Ruckus, Ruckus Announces 802.11ac Access Points, What’s inside Google’s Fiber Huts?, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band,

Qualcomm Announces end-to-end MU-MIMO

Qualcomm today announced 802.11ac Wave 2 solutions with multi-user multi-input/multi-output (MU-MIMO). Qualcomm Atheros will be conducting the industry’s an over-the-air, end-to-end MU-MIMO demonstration using their networking and client-side chips at Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, October 21-23.

Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac chipsets with MU-MIMO technology, which Qualcomm Atheros introduced earlier this year are beginning to be released in products. Mobile device manufacturers are also preparing smartphones and tablets to take advantage of these MU-MIMO which can achieve up to three times faster 11ac Wi-Fi, according to Qualcomm.

The Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 chip extends the performance benefits of MU | EFX to notebooks, TVs, cameras, and other consumer electronics, while Qualcomm’s single-stream 11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 combination chip is designed to provide the best possible performance with reduced power consumption.

Qualcomm says its VIVE is currently the only line of 802.11ac Multi-User MIMO solutions for networking equipment, consumer electronics, and mobile and computing devices. The VIVE Wi-Fi radio is an integral part built into the new Snapdragon 810 and 808 platforms.

Multi-user MIMO allows multiple transmitters to send separate signals to multiple receivers simultaneously in the same band.

Three Quantenna-based 802.11ac products are now available on the market, says Tim Higgins of Small Net Builder. They include the ASUS’ Broadcom / Quantenna based RT-AC87U/R, the NETGEAR’s R7500, and the Linksys E8350, but they currently do not support MU-MIMO. Broadcom’s new 5G Xtream adds another radio to the existing platform, but does not support MU-MIMO.

Qualcomm says AVM will introduce a new FRITZ! Box router based on the Qualcomm IPQ and 4-stream 802.11ac with MU-MIMO products, targeting both retail and carrier segments. Qualcomm Atheros has enabled mobile customers using its 802.11ac products (QCA6174A and WCN3680B) to include Qualcomm MU | EFX in forthcoming smartphones and tablets.

Google Fiber Going Wireless?

Google has applied to the FCC for permission to begin wireless spectrum tests in the San Francisco area. According to Reuters, the company’s looking into a rarely-used millimeter wave frequency that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data, but only if the receiving equipment is in the line-of-sight.

Google reportedly may offer a fast wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service. By beaming Internet services directly into homes, Google would open a new path now dominated by Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

The Google wireless test, beginning Nov. 13, will apparently include three sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one in San Mateo county and two locations a half-mile apart which appear to be on Google’s Mountain View, California campus. It will use the 5.8 GHz frequency, the 24.2 GHz frequency and the millimeter wave bands of 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, according to the application.

The FCC’s meeting on Friday discussed the use of wireless spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile services, including ways the agency can facilitate the development and deployment of technology. Their Notice on Inquiry looks at utilizing frequencies above 24 GHz for mobile use and “5G” applications. The FCC also adopted a Report and Order to facilite and clarify the use of public infrastructure for wireless transmitters.

Google bought Alpental Technologies in June, a stealthy Seattle startup led by ex-Clearwire researchers. Apparently Alpental will utilize 60 GHz 802.11ad and mesh networking.

The FCC loosened some rules governing the 60GHz band last year, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second.

A wireless broadband network is cheaper than fiber. Rather than digging up roads and laying cables to each individual home, transmitters on nearby buildings could enable Google to bring Gigabit internet to more places in less time. Craig Barratt, the former Atheros Communications CEO, is now head of the Google Access and Energy division. He signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application.

Hotspot 2.0 Streamlines New User Accounts

The Wi-Fi Alliance has expanded its Passpoint program, which provides seamless connection and WPA2 security, to include a streamlined method to establish new user accounts and connect Wi-Fi-only devices.

The WiFi Alliance is a non-profit trade organization formed to provide interoperability between device and promote the benefits of WiFi. The new features in Passpoint are particularly valuable to mobile and fixed operators, and open opportunities for other sectors, says the organization.

“Wi-Fi-first” business models have provided a disruptive counterpoint to traditional operator services, and retailers are deploying Wi-Fi as a way to improve customer engagement, says The Alliance. Wi-Fi roaming agreements among service providers are emerging as an important complement to traditional cellular roaming.

“Enthusiasm for Passpoint from both mobile and fixed operators continues to mount, and the strategic value of Passpoint extends into new segments as well,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “What makes the new features exciting is that they empower businesses to realize the powerful commercial impact that Wi-Fi can offer by giving them the ability to engage with customers on a new platform in a secure and streamlined fashion.”

Passpoint was launched in 2012 and is based on Wi-Fi Alliance’s Hotspot 2.0 Technical Specification. Fixed and mobile operators, including Boingo, Orange, SK Telecom, and Time Warner Cable. More than 20 operators are now participating in Wi-Fi roaming trials based on Passpoint.

The Passpoint program expansion builds on its foundational authentication and security mechanisms, adding features that make Passpoint more versatile and scalable:

  • Online sign-up and immediate account provisioning: Passpoint now enables a streamlined process to establish a new user account at the point of access.
  • Secure registration: The process of establishing a new account or connecting a second device takes place securely.
  • Operator policy: Passpoint now includes the capability for service providers to distribute their specific subscriber policies, such as which networks to join and in what order of preference.

The Passpoint certification program test suite includes support from Aruba Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm Atheros, and Ruckus Wireless.