As the managed WiFi services market continues to heat up, San Francisco-based Cloud4Wi is expanding from the enterprise space into the service provider channel with a new offering called VolareXP. That announcement alone isn't remarkable, but combined with the company's existing customer base and the history of both its CEO and its president, the news is enough to put Cloud4Wi on the WiFi vendor watch list.
For starters, Cloud4Wi already claims close to 60 million users worldwide, with enterprise customers that range from Armani to Olive Garden and McDonald's. Equally interesting, however, is the previous experience of its top leaders, both of whom have roots in telecom. CEO Andrea Calcagno did a stint with Telecom Italia (TIM) and President Jeff Abramowitz was the founder of WiFi startup company PowerCloud Systems, which sold to Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) in 2014 and is now used in the cable company's residential WiFi services. (See Comcast Sweeps Up PowerCloud and Comcast Plans Voice-Control Hub – Report .)
The new VolareXP product is an over-the-top WiFi platform for network operators serving small and midsized businesses. It's designed to make it easier for SMB companies to offer guest WiFi services and to promote their own products while doing so. Features include a simplified WiFi sign-in process, opt-in customer data collection, the ability to create a branded welcome page, the ability to offer coupons and encourage social media reviews and more.
If that sounds like what Comcast delivers with its WiFi Pro service, it is. And no, Cloud4Wi isn't behind WiFi Pro even though Abramowitz's PowerCloud technology is incorporated in Comcast's residential products. (See Comcast WiFi for Business Goes Live.)
However, Cloud4Wi does have some initial service provider clients on its roster, including Telecom Italia; former employer to Calcagno; and Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB), another Italian ISP.
Abramowitz also believes Cloud4Wi is one of the only managed WiFi service vendors to offer a carrier-grade solution.
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"This is where the heritage of Cloud4Wi really makes a huge difference," says Abramowitz. "The platform was originally designed to be carrier-grade. We've demonstrated that it is carrier-grade. We've got somewhere close to 60 million users that use the system at this point, and tens of thousands of locations in 80 plus countries."
Cloud4Wi has dealt with all of the privacy, regulatory and security issues across those geographies, he adds.
"And so we know the service provider's going to look at this platform and say 'It's easy to get a reference on it, it's easy to see how I can be confident rolling it out, and by the way it's relatively low-cost and low-maintenance to roll this out. Why don't I just do it?'," he comments. "So we've got tremendous scale advantage and time-to-market advantage."
Abramowitz sees massive opportunity for Cloud4Wi's OTT platform not only in offering guest WiFi services, but also for enabling additional WiFi applications in the future. For example, as US cable companies contemplate new WiFi-first mobile services, Cloud4Wi could sell itself as a management platform for WiFi-powered voice calling as well. (See Comcast Will Go Wireless in 2017 and Charter Will Activate Verizon MVNO Deal.)
In the meantime, Abramowitz is convinced that there is a short six- to 12-month window during which many service providers will select their technology partners for managed guest WiFi offerings. Comcast has already launched its solution for business customers, but many others haven't, and Cloud4Wi plans to be there when they do.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading