Light Reading

Devicescape Adds Insights, Interactivity to WiFi

Sarah Thomas
2/6/2014
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Devicescape is adding deeper levels of intelligence to its curated virtual network of more than 20 million hotspots. The WiFi operator announced a new suite of services Thursday that it says will help carriers make more of their offload networks.

Devicescape Software Inc. has built up its network of WiFi hotspots in retail outlets, coffee shops, and venues throughout the world that it connects users to through an app that scans for the best connection. It then partners with network operators, offering them access to its aggregated network and giving them -- as well as the retailers -- ways to monetize the access points they have in place. (See Top 10 Carrier WiFi Movers & Shakers.)

CMO David Nowicki says the goal of the new services is to move operators away from thinking of cellular versus WiFi to thinking of simple connectivity, regardless of the network, by making both equally as valuable. The new platform has three pillars: access, engagement, and insight.

Access
Devicescape's Adaptive Network Selection service, built around operator policies and consumer preferences, selects the best network based on the current conditions and the user's pricing plan. Nowicki says most operators are now looking for ways to drive more traffic to WiFi, which is a change from their typical second-choice approach. (See Devicescape Targets 100M Hotspots By 2017.)

Engagement
Devicescape's main WiFi play is in amenity hotspots, indoor access points provided by retail outlets and businesses. These companies often want to interact with the customers, target them with marketing and promotions, conduct surveys, and create a community feel around their store. Devicescape is enabling this with Popwifi, which it has been trialing in the US for the past year. In the trials, he says, owners are seeing an 8% click-through rate, in which 8% of their customers are engaging with their messaging. (See The Changing Face of 'Amenity WiFi' .)

Nowicki says the service, now commercial, will be in millions of venues and on millions of handsets by the end of the year. "That's a big step for us to move from thousands to tens of thousands to millions in terms of how many people have access to the software and how many venues have it on there," he says.

Insight
This is where things get interesting for carriers looking to make more of their WiFi offload networks. Devicescape will provide detailed user analytics on what consumers are doing on WiFi, where they are connecting, and how the network is performing.

"We give them insights into what the users are doing and give them an actual big-data feed, which allows them to understand where people are connecting and look at patterns and watch things over days and months," Nowicki says, adding that this is what they do on cellular already, but haven't had the ability over WiFi.

Nowicki says the entire suite of services is already in use by a Tier 1 operator, which the company will be announcing next week. And both will be showing off the services this month at Mobile World Congress. (See Mobile World Congress: Our Key Players.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/7/2014 | 8:42:54 AM
Re: PopWiFi
Thanks, Dave. Any examples from your trials you can point to where the service has worked particularly well for a business (drove more business, more revenue, etc)? I would think it'd work well in places like local coffee shops, but curious what success stories you have.
darkfinger
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darkfinger,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/6/2014 | 6:36:18 PM
Re: PopWiFi
Sarah,

Thanks for your comments.  Popwifi is pretty interesting.  More and more small businesses are offering free WiFi for their customers, yet they have no way of knowing whether it's working or getting much value out of it.  Popwifi gives them an easy way to interact, but an important point is they can also use Popwifi to drive customers to their preferred mobile or social experience.  As you likely know, small businesses are constantly besieged by people selling them new capabilities, but they've likely either no time for it or (more likely) have already picked Facebook as their engagement mechanism.  With Popwifi they can click a button and simply change the message to "click here to like us on Facebook" and - presto - the customer goes directly to their Facebook page. In this way, Popwifi just tries to make it easy for the small business owner, rather than forcing them to use YAP (yet another platform).

Dave
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/6/2014 | 12:18:54 PM
PopWiFi
I really like both the PopWiFi aspect of this and the analytics part (that just makes sense). Nowicki suggested a business owner, like a local coffee shop, could create a "wall" in which frequenters could leave notes, post pictures, ask the owners questions, etc. It creates a community feel and is more subtle, and likely more effective, advertising then just blasting them with ads since they're on your sign-on screen. It's something I think would work really well in places like coffee shops where people are repeat visitors.
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