Cable operator Midco signs onto CableLabs’ Kyrio hub for Wi-Fi roaming

(Kevin Grosvenor / CC BY 2.0)

Mid-tier cable operator Midco said it recently inked an agreement with CableLabs subsidiary Kyrio that will allow its customers to roam onto the public Wi-Fi networks operated by other cable companies. The deal will also support reciprocal roaming, so that customers from other cable operators can also roam onto Midco’s public Wi-Fi network.

“We did just sign a deal through Kyrio, which is a CableLabs subsidiary, to sign up to a Wi-Fi hub hosted by Kyrio,” Jon Pederson, the CTO of MSO Midco, told FierceCable. “It’s the ability to roam with Wi-Fi to other cable providers throughout the country that also participate.”

Pederson explained that Kyrio essentially manages a Wi-Fi roaming hub, and operators that connect their services into the hub can offer cross-carrier Wi-Fi roaming. That means Midco customers can log onto public Wi-Fi networks operated by other participants of the hub, and vice versa.

“Their mission in this case is to facilitate smaller and mid-tier operators to participate in that Wi-Fi roaming,” Pederson said of Kyrio. CableLabs rebranded its for-profit, security-focused spin-off subsidiary, NetworkFX, into Kyrio earlier this year. Kyrio provides managed PKI security services and Wi-Fi testing services, among other offerings.

Midco expects to launch the roaming service commercially by next year.

Kyrio executives weren’t immediately available to discuss the Midco deal, including whether it is related to the Cable WiFi alliance, a group formed by several cable operators including Comcast and others in 2012 to support roaming among participants’ respective public Wi-Fi hotspots. Kyrio’s corporate parent, CableLabs, is a consortium among cable companies aimed at developing new technologies for members.

Midco’s Pederson said the cable company is working to update its own public Wi-Fi network in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in part to support Kyrio’s Wi-Fi roaming hub.

“We had a mesh network in downtown for the public to use and it’s getting a little long in the tooth and we want to install a new mesh network,” Pederson explained. “It’s specifically designed to meet the requirements of this roaming agreement.”

Pederson said Midco’s new public Wi-Fi network will cover around 60 Cisco access points and will work on Cisco management software. “Wireless technology advances so quickly that if you wait a couple of years the new stuff you put in is massively superior to the old stuff,” added Pederson.

Does Midco’s work in Wi-Fi portend a potential move by the company to launch cellular service, like Comcast plans to do with its MVNO agreement with Verizon? “At this time we do not” have MVNO plans, Pederson said.

Midco counts 330,000 customers in nearly 350 communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The company is in the midst of testing DOCSIS 3.1 network technology, and plans to launch faster service powered by the technology in four to five of its largest cities by the end of this year.

Related articles:
Midco CTO: We’re on track to launch DOCSIS 3.1 in 4-5 largest cities by end of 2016
CableLabs rebrands NetworkFX spin-off into 'Kyrio'
Comcast begins second leg of DOCSIS 3.1 rollout in Nashville

Article updated August 17 to correct information about Wi-Fi roaming options.