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Coming soon: 200 Wi-Fi hotspots around Metro Jackson

wireless-connection-icon_rgbHere’s yet another reason not to leave home without your mobile device: Comcast is setting up a half dozen outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots in Jackson area parks and town squares this month as part of a cyber connection effort that will create 200 access points in public spaces throughout the metro region the first three months of the new year.

The hotspots give both Comcast Internet subscribers and non-subscribers access to Web connections on mobile phones, tablets and other portable devices. Xfinity subscribers get unlimited access, while non-subscribers get two hours a month of free access, Comcast says.

Here are the initial hotspots:

» 1 Braves Way – Trustmark Park, Pearl

» 215 E. Government St. – Brandon

» Laurel Street Park – 1841 Laurel St., Jackson

» Belhaven Park – 1000 Poplar Blvd., Jackson

» Fondren Park – 3540 Northview Drive, Jackson

» Old Town Square – West Jackson Street,  Ridgeland

The additional hotspots are expected to include parks, shopping centers and commuter stations. They will be set up during the first quarter of 2015, spokesman Alex Horwitz said.

Comcast Regional Senior VP Doug Guthrie said the company selected the 200 access points as a way to reach a maximum number of people and their mobile devices. “We strategically chose these locations so customers could access the Internet from their mobile devices in high-traffic locations where they typically work, shop and dine,” he said. The new hotspots are in addition to Comcast Xfinity Internet’s nearly 16,000 hotspots that serve small- and medium-sized businesses in Jackson. This is a value-added feature for businesses such as restaurants, offices and retail establishment “that directly improves their patrons’ experience,” Horwitz said.

Comcast in April set up about 14,500 residential hotspots in the metro area, Horwitz noted. These provide customers with Xfinity Wireless Gateways a second “xfinity wifi” signal, or SSID, in their home that is separate from the private home Wi-Fi signal. “This second signal provides visiting Xfinity Internet customers Wi-Fi access without the need to use the homeowner’s private network and password,” Horwitz said.

Ridgeland-based telecommunications company C Spire has been in the spot light lately with its one gigabit “fiber-to-the-home” initiative around Mississippi. C Spire recently initiated the “one-hundred-times-faster” service in Quitman, Starkville and Ridgeland and will soon be bringing it to Jackson, Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake and McComb.

Comcast says its fiber-optic infrastructure allows it to offer the same lightning speeds to residential customers and is considering initiating the service in Jackson and other markets, according to Horwitz.

“In many markets in fact, we already offer residential download speeds of up to 505 Mbps, and we offer Comcast Business customers 10 Gbps,” he said in an email, and noted Comcast has increased its residential speeds 13 times in 12 years.

In 2015, Comcast aims to start testing what’s known as DOCSIS 3.1, an upgrade to cable Internet technology cable companies are adopting, Horwtiz said. “DOCSIS 3.1 is capable of delivering 1 to 10 gigabit speeds, and with Comcast’s network and DOCSIS 3.1, this has the potential to benefit millions of homes, as opposed to select areas.  DOCSIS 3.1 will be the primary way we’ll deliver gigabit speeds at scale to the vast majority of our residential customers locally and nationally.”

In a demonstration three years ago in Chicago, Comcast showed that its existing network can handle 1 gig speeds when the electronics at connection points are upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1, he noted.


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