Comcast, TWC 'CableWiFi' shared network deal survives recent M&A, hotspot count now 500K

The CableWiFi Alliance -- a Wi-Fi network sharing agreement between Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications -- is still going after a round of M&A that saw three of the companies in the group acquired by companies outside of the group.

Charter's (NASDAQ: CHTR) recent acquisitions of TWC and Bright House and Altice USA's recent acquisition of Cablevision may have cast some uncertainty on the agreement but Comcast confirmed that CableWiFi is still available to those MSOs' subscribers.

"The Cable WiFi consortium remains in place following the recent M&A activity," a Comcast spokesperson told FierceCable. "Subscribers of each MSO that were previously entitled to use the CableWiFi hotspots continue to enjoy access. Access points that were made available by each MSO continue to provide CableWiFi service."

The shared network, which totaled about 250,000 hotspots in 2014, is now up to about 500,000 total hotspots.

The continued growth of the CableWiFi Alliance network comes as smaller MSOs like Mediacom are taking initial steps to establish a public Wi-Fi network. Mediacom has pledged to invest $1 billion over three years to build public Wi-Fi access in select cities in Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Georgia and elsewhere. The MSO is also looking into supporting Wi-Fi roaming with Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Comcast.

Amid individual and combined efforts from cable MSOs to grow Wi-Fi networks, a recent report from Light Reading pegged the cable industry's total Wi-Fi hotspot count at around 17 million, with Comcast accounting for more than 15 million.

Of course, as the report points out, it's unclear how many of Comcast's Wi-Fi hotspots are home Wi-Fi networks that allow for guest usage.

A Comcast spokesperson confirmed to FierceCable that the MSO currently has 14 million hotspots, contrary to the report, but declined to break out how many are home Wi-Fi hotspots.

"We don't break out home/business/outdoor, but the overwhelming majority are home hotspots," said a Comcast spokesperson.

Regardless of the type of hotspots in use, Comcast's Wi-Fi network appears to be supporting a huge amount of traffic. During the INTX show earlier this year, Comcast's Cole Reinwand confirmed that the Xfinity Wi-Fi network handled 445.8 Petabytes (or 445.8 million GB) in traffic last year.

The cable industry's growing public Wi-Fi presence is largely viewed as a valuable capacity and coverage component as Comcast, Charter and others consider offering mobile services. Comcast said it's activating an MVNO deal with Verizon that will allow Comcast to resell Verizon network access under its own brand, and Charter has indicated that, through its TWC and Bright House acquisitions, it now has access to the same agreement.

Comcast has also applied to be a bidder in the FCC's upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction, which will put 126 megahertz of prized low-band spectrum up for sale.

Related articles:
Comcast recorded 445.8 Petabytes of traffic on its Wi-Fi network last year
Mediacom begins work on public Wi-Fi network, looks toward interoperability with Charter, Comcast
Cable's Wi-Fi ambitions are about much more than customer retention

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