UPC Cablecom opens private Wi-Fi hotspots

Jörn Krieger | 16-01-2014

Switzerland's largest cable operator UPC Cablecom wants to open the Wi-Fi home networks of its private customers for third parties so that other UPC customers can use the Internet hotspots free-of-charge when they are within range.

For Wi-Free, the existing Wi-Fi modems of UPC Cablecom's Internet customers will switch on a second wireless network. The separate network has so far been inactive and will be activated through a software update. UPC Cablecom will provide additional bandwidth for the Wi-Free network, so that the customers' own speeds will not be reduced. The co-users will not be able to access the owner's personal Wi-Fi network.

UPC Cablecom's 11,000 internet customers in St Gallen will be the first to make use of the new feature. On 30 January, the Wi-Free network will be activated on all installed Wi-Fi modems in the town. Following the trial, UPC Cablecom wants to roll out Wi-Free throughout its whole coverage area.

UPC Cablecom is one of the first subsidiaries of US media company Liberty Global to introduce a co-surfing feature. Wi-Free users will be able to use the service in other European countries in future. Sister company Telenet has already deployed a comparable solution in Belgium. Since the launch in 2011, more than one million homespots have been activated nationwide.

In Germany, the largest cable operator Kabel Deutschland launched a homesport system in November 2013 which enables its customers to use other customers' Wi-Fi networks free of charge.