Mobile operators made 'gigantic blunder' by ceding Wi-Fi to cable, analyst says

Deployment of carrier-grade Wi-Fi networks by cable companies will far surpass the rollout of small cells by telecommunications companies, according to U.K. analyst Joe Madden of Mobile Experts, who also says telcos missed a huge opportunity to capitalize on Wi-Fi

"Even if we exclude homespot deployments, the number of Wi-Fi access points will reach the level of millions for cable operators and public venues during 2015, outstripping the capacity of new LTE base stations," said Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts. "Several large mobile operators have made a gigantic blunder, by ignoring the opportunity to deploy Wi-Fi or utilize Hotspot 2.0--so cable operators and other service providers are jumping on the opportunity. Homespots add another dimension, with massive crowd-sourcing of capacity. The total Wi-Fi capacity deployed by service providers worldwide could match the 'data tsunami' in terms of raw capacity over the next five years, although of course there are obvious limitations in mobility and QoS."

Madden joins a growing chorus of analysts who believe that carrier-grade cable Wi-Fi will surpass cellular as the mobile network of choice in just a few years.

Madden says the wider-scale deployment of Hotspot 2.0, which lets users join Wi-Fi network automatically as soon as they're in range, will be a "game-changer."

"The definition of a service provider is changing with Hotspot 2.0," he noted. "A stadium or a hotel can use Hotspot 2.0 roaming agreements to operate as a wireless service provider, and products are emerging which are attractive, neutral options for venues to invest in wireless. Also, with Wi-Fi calling, cheap, unlicensed services will cover the needs of many in-building users. Convergence of licensed and unlicensed services will happen, but we're changing our view of the market timing and the implications for specific companies."

For more:
- visit the Mobile Experts homepage
- read this CED Magazine story

Special Report: Cable sees big future in Wi-Fi as video gives way to OTT, high programming costs

Related links:
Report: Service providers to deploy more than 4M public Wi-Fi hotspots in 2015
Cablevision sees 3.7% revenue spike despite worst-ever quarter subscriber loss
Huawei to deploy Wi-Fi network as part of its first U.S. sports sponsorship