German cable operator Unitymedia will offer its customers the possibility to use the Wi-Fi network of other customers free of charge while outside the reach of their own hotspot.
For the third-party access, Unitymedia will activate a second Wi-Fi hotspot in the cable modems of its customers. As it uses additional bandwidth, the internet speed the customer signed up for will not be affected. The data rate will amount to up to 10Mbps for downloads and up to 1Mbps for uploads.
On public squares, in restaurants, cafés and Unitymedia stores, the download data rate will amount to up to 150Mbps. There is no volume limitation or throttling. Unitymedia will take over legal responsibility in the case of abusive usage for example when a third-party user downloads movies or music from illegal web portals.
The WifiSpot feature through which customers can protect the data volume included in their mobile network tariffs will be introduced in summer 2016, probably at the occasion of trade fair ANGA COM in June. Unitymedia wants to create 1.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots in the three federal states it serves by the end of this year.
The customer Wi-Fi network complements the public hotspots Unitymedia installed in June 2015. This network can also be used by non-customers and comprises more than 1,000 hotspots in 100 cities.
“We will now fire up the second stage,” Christian Hindennach, head of Unitymdia’s consumer business department, said at the presentation of the new service. With the move, the cable company reacts to mobile media usage getting increasingly important for consumers and more relevant in broader target groups, he explained.
The third-party access will become a feature of all internet tariffs for new and existing customers, said Christian Rupp, product manager Wi-Fi at Unitymedia. Customers who don’t want their modems to be opened can object against the feature, but in return won’t be able to use the service themselves.
Unitymedia’s sister companies UPC Cablecom in Switzerland, UPC Austria and other European cable subsidiaries of Liberty Global have been offering the co-surfing feature locally branded Wi-Free for several years. Roaming will be possible said Rupp. Unitymedia customers will, thus, be able to use hotspots when abroad, for example during a holiday in Austria, to gain free internet access.
Vodafone subsidiary Kabel Deutschland introduced a co-surfing feature through its homespots in November 2013. Tele Columbus and Primacom created a community Wi-Fi network in March 2016.