U.S. cable operators have deployed more than 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association estimated in a blog post Monday.
That’s up from about 150,000 in June, the last time the NCTA offered a count, and up from 50,000 in May 2012.
The NCTA is also revealing the new figure as the House Energy and commerce committee gets ready to discuss next-gen “Gigabit” Wi-Fi Tuesday. The cable industry has been urging the government to loosen restrictions on the 5GHz band if Wi-Fi is to meet the anticipated demand of wireless broadband access.
The bulk of those 200,000 hotspots come from cable operator members of the “CableWiFi” roaming alliance – Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.
Those operators have primarily used their hotspots as a free add-on for cable modem customers, though some operators also support pay-as-you-go plans for non-subscribers.
Comcast, meanwhile, has also kicked off a program that envisions turning millions of DOCSIS-powered wireless gateways in customer homes into quasi-public hot spots, hitting on a trend that is already well underway in Europe. When equipped with the right firmware, those gateways use a new “xfinitywifi” signal, or SSID (service set identifier), that are accessible to authenticated, roaming Comcast broadband subs. Comcast’s Xfinity WiFi site estimates that the operator now provides access to more than 300,000 hotspots through its upgraded gateways and partnerships with other MSOs.