Comcast develops method for dynamically extending wireless broadband reach

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) engineers are exploring how to eliminate wireless broadband "dead zones" by boosting the signals of Wi-Fi transmitters and connecting to 4G networks in areas that can't be reached by Wi-Fi, and even using data culled from social networks, emails and phone calls to determine where its subscribers will need access to the Internet, according to a patent application published today.

Comcast states in the application, "For example, local office may search information included in an electronic communication (e.g., e-mail message, travel itinerary, hotel reservation, etc.) to identify information indicating that the user will be traveling to a particular location at a particular date and time (e.g., an email or IP phone call in which the user states, 'I will be driving to Kentucky tomorrow')."

Comcast VP of Business Development Tom Nagel said earlier this month that the nation's largest cable MSO now offers subscribers more than 350,000 Wi-Fi access points. Comcast is also deploying new Wi-Fi gateways in subscriber homes that can transmit a second SSID capable of enabling neighborhood hotspots.

The patent application details how the company could expand Wi-Fi coverage based on demand from subscribers, and use Wi-Fi and 4G networks from other providers in areas where it needs coverage. "In some embodiments, the coverage area of the wireless network may be extended by transferring service to another wireless network or, when multiple wireless networks are available, selecting one of the available wireless networks and instructing the user device to transfer service to the selected wireless network," Comcast states in the patent application.

Comcast has filed some unique patent applications involving technology for expanding its Wi-Fi reach. In July, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a Comcast patent application that detailed how it may be able to place Wi-Fi transceivers on rental cars, buses, bicycles and even humans.

The MSO's latest application, titled "Wireless Network Supporting Extended Coverage of Service," was filed in May 2012. The inventors named on the patent are Comcast engineers Frances Bevan, David Markowitz, Michael Rekstad, Jae Sim and Christopher Stone.

For more:
- see the patent application

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