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.