The U.S. cable industry has been busy deploying nearly 12 million public Wi-Fi access points across the nation so far, with Comcast alone having installed 10 million of them. But instead of trying to monetize these assets, most operators offer free Wi-Fi as an extension of their broadband services. This is likely due to Wi-Fi’s unreliability, when compared to cellular service.
Changes may be on the way, however. The continuing tightening of standards is getting Wi-Fi closer to carrier-grade quality every day. Consumers are also interested: recent studies have found that over three-quarters of Canadian and American customers would consider replacing their cellular plan with a Wi-Fi-first offering if it was proven to be as dependable, and included the same coverage, as cellular. It may fall to some adventurous company to craft a compelling, price-sensitive Wi-Fi plan that resonates with the public to get the Wi-Fi monetization ball rolling.