Wi-Fi Monetization Remains Largely Indirect
Nomadic or untethered access has become a bigger part of the mobile device access pattern for some time, and likely will assume more importance as home-based internet of things apps proliferate and related trends such as voice control of devices increases.
What always has been harder are ways to monetize large hotspot networks. To a large extent, some U.S. cable operators have been able to use widespread hotspot access to boost new account and retention for fixed network internet access customers. It is not so clear that AT&T and other mobile operators have had quite the same success.
It remains the case the most of the monetization opportunities are indirect, though. Wi-Fi offload is valuable for mobile operators, even when they do not directly own the Wi-Fi assets being used, to reduce congestion and load on their networks.
Consumers value offload because it means they do not use so much mobile data. Eventually, Comcast and Charter Communications expect to use offload to their own Wi-Fi hotspots and in-home customer Wi-Fi networks to reduce the amount of wholesale capacity they must buy from Verizon.
Also, over time, in-home internet of things apps and devices should benefit from in-home Wi-Fi. Comcast might well have a direct revenue stream from providing home security that leverages the Wi-Fi and internet connection.
In such cases, the revenue model is likely to continue to be indirect; the customer paying for the security service that happens to use Wi-Fi and the internet access connection.