Satellite TV distributor BSkyB’s Wi-Fi subsidiary The Cloud is to spend millions of pounds to grow its network and to refresh the technology in its 22,000 hot spots over the next few years.
The aim is to improve the company’s capacity to deliver streaming video such as Premier League football matches to subscribers wherever they are. It would also provide the means for UK mobile network operators to use Wi-Fi to off-load their traffic on to fixed wire backhaul circuits.
Sami Susiaho, The Cloud’s Wi-Fi product manager, said it was adding 10,000 new access points (APs) and refreshing its existing 8,000 UK APs. The company was reviewing its growth plans in Europe where it has 14,000 APs, he said. He declined to provide an exact number for the investment.
The multi-million pound expansion and technology refresh will use Ruckus Wireless’s self-configuring ZoneFlex dual-band 802.11n access points. This gives the hotspots more speed (300Mbps or more bandwidth, more reach and even some power saving features for the client’s devices.
‘The dual radio, which uses both the 2.4GHz (with 20MHz channel width) and 5GHz (with 40MHz channel width) will triple the available wireless capacity from all APs, enhancing the user experience by providing much improved capacity,’ Susiaho said.
The refresh will provide automatic channel management, which will ensure that the APs find the cleanest air and share the workload among multiple APs to maximise traffic throughput.
Sky recently introduced Go, a free smartphone-based video download and broadband service for Sky subscribers. Sky spokesmen told Mobile last month Go uptake had been “pleasing”.
The expansion is part of Sky’s efforts to leverage and extend its foothold in hotels, bars and other retail outlets that are already Sky TV subscribers. Mobile reported the growing appetite for hot-spots last month.
Ruckus Wireless’s vice president for marketing David Callisch told Mobile that data volumes were growing faster than many mobile network operators were prepared for. Congestion and contention were now endemic to mobile networks, he said.
He said that, although significant, The Cloud deal represented less than 10% of Ruckus Wireless sales.