Light Reading
Sprint MVNO wants to takes its infrastructure-free, WiFi-first model to other countries.

Scratch Wireless Eyes International Expansion

Sarah Reedy
3/26/2014
50%
50%

SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- Scratch Wireless may be a small startup, but it has big ambitions. The Sprint MVNO says it plans to take its infrastructure-free, WiFi-first service model to other parts of the world, potentially starting in Asia.

Speaking at a Fierce Wireless breakfast here on Wednesday morning, Scratch Wireless CEO Alan Berrey said he wants to replicate his business model -- a completely free consumer wireless service -- anywhere in the world where regulation will allow.

It would be able to do that because Scratch doesn't own any cellular towers, doesn't rely on any vendors for hardware, and its entire telephone infrastructure is built completely on customized open-source code using any open WiFi access points. It does, of course, pay Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) for cellular connectivity, but becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) allowed it create a telephony company essentially overnight with no capex required. (See Why WiFi-First Works for Wireless and Is WiFi the New It Network?)

Berrey wouldn't share any subscriber numbers for the service, which launched in December, but said that two-thirds of its customer base solely uses WiFi, meaning they never pay a dime, while one-third uses cellular to fill in the gaps. For its entire customer base, 91% of calling is over WiFi, 75% of the 1,200 text messages sent per month are over WiFi, although they are free on cellular as well, and 86% of the average customer's time is spent on WiFi.

"Our model is to take WiFi to the extreme and utilize it for as much as possible," Berrey explained. "We can essentially replicate Scratch in Hong Kong or Mexico or anywhere, and it costs me zip to create another mobile offering any other place in the world."

So where to first? Berrey didn't have anything specific to announce, but he said he is in conversations with operators in other countries. Scratch's largest investors are in Asia, so that would be a logical place to start.

In the meantime, it's still proving out its model in the US. A limitation of Scratch is that there is no handoff between WiFi and cellular. While that's fine for those customers who want to avoid paying for cellular, it means any call initiated on WiFi will drop if the user moves away from the access point. It's a limitation that applies to Sprint's own WiFi calling service, and is something fellow Sprint MVNO Republic Wireless addressed in its latest device, the Moto X. Berrey said Scratch will also have a handoff solution in its next device, but didn't say which phone or when it would be launched. (See Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi and Republic Wireless Revamps Its WiFi Handoff.)

Scratch is far from the only WiFi-first operator. It's a new trend that's popped up as WiFi has improved, and operators like Sprint make it easy to wholesale cellular backup. But Berrey says Scratch is profitable on a per-customer model -- it makes most of its money on device sales and cellular usage -- and, if you'll excuse the pun, has only scratched the surface on where it can go next.

"We hope to be disruptive," Berrey said. "Our focus right now is to blow it out in the US, but we're also already in conversations with other countries."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/26/2014 | 2:58:37 PM
Re: WiFi usage
Sounds like Scratch is operating on a freemium business model – give away the Wi-Fi service, and make money on self-service and device sales. Is that correct?
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/26/2014 | 11:42:17 AM
WiFi usage
Kinda crazy that Scratch's WiFi numbers are so high. It only uses readily available WiFi APs, so that suggests that most people are using Scratch primarily in their homes or maybe at work (although their users tend to be younger). Scratch isn't yet working with a WiFi aggregator like fellow panelist Devicescape, but it's very interested in doing so. I bet we'll see them strike a deal soon.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed