Wi-Fi, well known as the killer app for cell tower overload, may become critical to other platforms, as well.
HetNets Tower, a subsidiary of TowerStream, added its first rent-based cable company anchor tenant on its neutral host Wi-Fi network in the second quarter, Jeff Thompson, TowerStream president and CEO, told the second quarter earnings call.
“Combined with our existing customer base, this is a clear indication that the use of Wi-Fi to offload mobile data will continue to increase as carriers, cable companies and other Internet platform companies employ a wide range of solutions to address rapidly growing traffic volumes,” he said.
While 21 exabytes are projected to be offloaded from cellular systems by 2017, the Wi-Fi market opportunity is expanding beyond cellular offload, Thompson said. He noted the recent decision by Starbucks to switch its Wi-Fi service at 7,000 stores to Google from AT&T is an example of the expanding importance of Wi-Fi.
“Not only does this deal showcase the importance of Wi-Fi as a significant competitive advantage for a range of companies, it also demonstrates Google emerging as a significant Wi-Fi player,” he said.
Cable companies are also enhancing their Wi-Fi networks, which Thompson said will lead them to HetNets’ doorstep.
“We expect TowerStream [HetNets] to be a significant beneficiary of the trend, and as announced on June 28, we signed a rent-based Wi-Fi lease agreement with a major cable operator for our New York City Metro network,” he said. That company has requested additional sites be built to address its coverage needs.
Thompson said he expects cable companies to be interested in the HetNets Tower’s franchises in other cities including San Francisco, Chicago and Miami.
HetNets also expects to see growth from its carrier customers, one of which, MetroPCS, is just completing integration with a new parent company.
The second quarter also heralded the certification of HetNets’ Manhattan network by the Wi-Fi Alliance as a next-generation hot-spot compliant. The operator-grade Wi-Fi certified Passpoint program allows Passpoint mobile devices to automatically discover and connect to Wi-Fi networks powered by Passpoint-certified access points, increasing carrier data offload.
“Our shared wireless network presently has substantial capacity available for lease,” said Joseph Hernon, CFO. “With the introduction of Hotspot 2.0, the number of Wi-Fi customers is virtually unlimited. We also have more than 10,000 small cell locations available for lease. We look forward to bringing additional customers onto the shared wireless network.”