Dutch operator Ziggo is launching a nationwide Wi-Fi network, which will offer its broadband customers free WiFi with almost one million hot spots.
The service, which is a world-first, is now rolling out in The Hague with 65,000 hot spots, following a pilot in Groningen with 18,000 hot spots. The nationwide network is based on shared access to customers’ home broadband routers.
The service looks similar to Telenet’s network of shared hot spots, but is not browser-based. Ziggo broadband customers have to activate their laptop, tablet or smartphone one time and will have automatically access to all hot spots.
While on the go, Ziggo customers can now access all internet services including using What’s app, Skype and even watching live TV and catch-up programming from web-based services. The network does not yet offer a true TV Everywhere service, as the Ziggo TV app is not working, due to copyright restrictions. However, once the rights are settled with the broadcasters, Ziggo hopes to roll out a true TV Everywhere service.
The service is free to use, but people need to open up their router to take part in the network. “We use an opt-out system, people can choose not to take part,” said Pieter Vervoort, VP consumer products and innovation, Zigoo, during a press presentation. During the pilot, only 1% declined to make its modem available. 25% of all broadband customers in the city made use of the service outside their homes.
The operator said that there is a total separation between the hot spot and the customer’s network; Wi-Fi use by other Ziggo customers does not affect internet performance; and that each hot spot can accommodate 20 guest users simultaneously.
The roll out takes place gradually with 200,000 hot spots to be activated in the provinces of Zuid-Holland and Groningen in May and June; Noord-Holland and Utrecht will follow by end June; a further 150,000 in Brabant and 200,000 in Limburg and Twente by end July. By end August, 100,000 will be activated in Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel. The operator hopes to have almost one million hot spots operational by the end of August.
For the moment, nationwide coverage is only restricted to the operator’s footprint, but Vervoort said negotiations are under way with UPC to extend the coverage area.
Broadband TV Views. Rolling out a network of freely accessible hot spots could be a major blow to Ziggo’s competitors as it allows nationwide wireless access. As the spots are geared for usage by smartphones and tablets, it is easy to see that people will use it to make free calls and send and receive emails.
Ziggo’s investment consists of replacing all broadband modems with dual access routers, bu this is small beer compared to rolling out a 3G or 4G network. Of course, an agreement with other cable networks, e.g. UPC, is needed in order for the hot spots network to be a formidable competitor to other operators.
Ziggo’s aim is also to bring TV Everywhere and we expect it to be only a matter of time before people can access their live TV and on-demand content wherever they go. At the moment, they can of course also remotely access any personal videos, photos and music stored on their local network. This includes access to any downloaded professional content – which is not illegal in the Netherlands.