Comcast to Build Major 'Homezone' Network

Date: June 10, 2013

Comcast is the first major U.S. ISP to begin building a public Wi-Fi network using each consumer ISP connection as a wireless access point. The move essentially creates a Comcast-branded Wi-Fi network such as pioneered by Fon or Devicescape.

Essentially, Comcast access routers will create two virtual networks, one configured for the private use of the home subscriber, the second part of an “xfinitywifi” network that can be shared by other users.

Only Comcast customers will be able to get access. The new network creates a new “untethered” or wireless network that is not fully mobile, but not limited to fixed access points, either.

The only question is how long it might be before other ISPs also extend Internet access using “homespots” in addition to “hotspots.”

Homespot Connect, for example, is an Android app that allows smartphone users to connect to Telenet (Belgium) “homespots.”

Google might consider doing something similar for users of its Google Fiber service. That is one way to create value out of “free” 5 Mbps connections some users are signing up to use. Obviously, Google Fiber could supply 5 Mbps to end users “for free” while using additional bandwidth for a new homespot network.

Almost inevitably, we will once again hear talk about the degree to which homespot networks can provide a substitute for rival fixed or mobile ISP services.

In the end, homespot networks are likely to have a range of uses, some complementary and some possibly competitive to other ISP networks. Homespot networks using a closed business model (only Xfinity customers can use the Xfinity homespot network, for example) will compete with other ISP offers.

That might wind up being the primary way homespot networks “compete with” other fixed and mobile ISP services. The precursor is the way cable operators and telcos have used public Wi-Fi hotspot access as an amenity to attract and retain fixed or mobile network customers.

It might be fair to say that in the future, when many subscribers have connections operating at hundreds of megabits per second to a gigabit per second, there should be plenty of bandwidth to enable those at-home connections in “homezone” fashion as well, without affecting the subscriber’s experience.

Still, it will be a matter of business logic, more than anything else, that determines whether a specific homezone network is complementary or competitive to any other ISP operations.

Most likely, homezone networks will “compete” with fixed and mobile networks largely in the sense already common, namely that public Wi-Fi or homezone access is an amenity available to customers of specific branded ISP services.

View the original article here: