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Top 10 Carrier WiFi Movers & Shakers

Sarah Thomas

Pertti Visuri, CEO, BandwidthX

While most companies are talking about getting WiFi everywhere for their customers, there are a lot of APs not in use at any given time. That's where BandwidthX comes into play. The company, under CEO Pertti Visuri, has built an automated electronic marketplace for bandwidth, in which operators can buy WiFi capacity exactly when and where they need it and specify the price they are will to pay for it, all via a web interface.

On the other side of the market is anyone who controls WiFi capacity, who can also enter prices based on the time of day, location, or device ID. They let BandwidthX know what kind of authentication mechanism and credentials are needed, and BandwidthX makes the connection automatically using a small client app on the device that's tied to its hosted cloud marketplace. The model is reminiscent of AirBnB, which connects travelers to homeowners with extra space or empty rooms.

The company quietly launched the service about eight months ago. Visuri is positioning it as a way for carriers to pay for their WiFi networks and, he claims, operators can save billions using it. He says he's signed commercial agreements for operation with regional companies at this point, but is in "advanced discussions with everyone in the US and a few international operators and expect to be in trial mode with Tier 1 companies during 2014."

"The principles are well known," Visuri says. "The mechanisms, even though we're talking about pennies per transaction, are similar to the mechanisms being used in huge spectrum auctions the mobile industry does to find spectrum for their long term needs. We just automated that and harnessed it for other purposes."

It will be worth keeping an eye on the startup and Visuri to see whether operators are as willing to share their WiFi as homeowners have been to share their guest bedrooms.

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    Sarah Thomas
    Sarah Thomas,
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/3/2014 | 2:54:52 PM
    Re: Another candidate!
    Thanks, Claus. Torbjörn is another good one to watch. I've spoken to Aptilo awhile back, but haven't heard what they are doing lately. I'll be curious to see how they're shaping handoff. 
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/3/2014 | 2:52:55 PM
    Another candidate!
    Hi Sarah

    You should have included Torbjörn Ward of Aptilo Networks - he's a guru and co-founder. Ericsson hardly market Wi-Fi at all, at least not to my knowledge. 
    Sarah Thomas
    Sarah Thomas,
    User Rank: Blogger
    12/30/2013 | 12:29:55 PM
    Re: Thoughts on the list?
    Yeah, I almost included Ericsson on the list (put them in "people to watch" instead), particularly because of the handoff technology that introduced that is supposed to fix the authentication issue. But, the tech is proprietary and no customers were announced, so I think it may be too early to call it a success. Definitely something to keep an eye on though. They will do a lot more with their BelAir buy too.
    User Rank: Blogger
    12/30/2013 | 12:09:37 PM
    Re: Thoughts on the list?
    If you look at where a lot of the news has been coming from the last couple years, this list hits a lot of the key names. Vendor-wise, is someone from Ericsson worth consideration? I thought they were doing a lot after the BelAir deal, though I admit to not being very steeped in this particular segment.
    Sarah Thomas
    Sarah Thomas,
    User Rank: Blogger
    12/27/2013 | 9:12:12 AM
    Thoughts on the list?
    So what did everyone think of the list? It's pretty extensive, but there's a lot of action going on in carrier WiFi and more to come next year. Did we miss anyone that should be on it?
    Sarah Thomas
    Sarah Thomas,
    User Rank: Blogger
    12/27/2013 | 9:11:32 AM
    Re: Wifi Deployment
    My hope is that WiFi remains free, but I think the more it improves, the more operators wil look for ways to charge for it. I'm hoping they'll stick to other ways to monetize it like advertising, promotions and partnerships. It's hard to take something we've always enjoyed as free and make it a paid-for service.

    That's on the mobile side though. Cable is certainly booming in WiFi and is a different use case and business model a lot of the time. Seems like most are using it to encourage customers to upgrade to higher tiers of broadband service.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/23/2013 | 4:33:28 AM
    Wifi Deployment
    In the realm of personal consumer internet service, do you think Wifi will move from an on par benefit to a true differentiator?  Locally, and I don't have the service myself, but heard that TWC did a pretty good job with their Wifi deployment.  It's pretty new so it's probably underutilized but heard the coverage on the streets they do have installed is pretty responsive and seamless (and it's free for their customers).

    I think mobility is key, people want easy access, a free hot spot is one thing, but would you add to your monthly bill in order to have limited but predictable wifi in major urban areas?  I mean the more coverage you build and the more predictable stable service, the more cost that's associated with it.
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