What was the most important takeaway from the Wi-Fi Offload Summit in Palo Alto? Simply this: Public Wi-Fi in all its forms – including Cloud Wi-Fi for venues, high-density services, seamless Hotspot 2.0 roaming, offload for carriers, and more – is the biggest telecoms opportunity of this decade. For those of you who weren’t there: Here are some of the not-to-be-missed headlines:
The new buzzword: Cloud Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is everywhere in the US, delivering at least two-thirds of smart device traffic. Wi-Fi is not only provides a great way of delivering cheap, high-performance connectivity to everyone, it’s also spurning a new class of ‘Cloud Wi-Fi’ startups. The Wi-Fi industry is abuzz with innovative ways of ‘monetizing free’.
For the first time ever all of Purple Wi-Fi, Cloud4Wi, Wavespot, Socifi, Euclid Analytics, and AirTight all showcased their Cloud-based solutions at the same event, each with their own take on how to make money on free with social media, ads, content, location analytics, customer engagement – even with an Wi-Fi app marketplace.
The market for venue Wi-Fi is huge, so it will be exciting to follow all of these companies over the coming months. Watch this space.
And monetization of Wi-Fi at big venues is already happening. The high-density experts from SignalShare (who provided the live, high-performance Wi-Fi at the Summit) is already monetizing stadium Wi-Fi with advertising AND offload. Which brings up this extremely important point: One monetization scheme does not exclude the other.
Carriers investing in Wi-Fi like never before
The technology for mass-market public Wi-Fi adoption is already here. Carrier-grade Wi-Fi radio already beats cellular performance by a long shot and seamless services using Hotspot 2.0 or OTT-type device clients is enabling mass-market uptake.
Boingo Wireless and Boingo Media have been posting impressive financial results in recent quarters. Boingo is banking on Hotspot 2.0 ‘zero-touch’ access as well as simple and effective ways to monetize free with advertising: A 30-second ad in return for 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi. According to iPass CEO Evan Kaplan, Wi-Fi is the perfect example of a disruptive technology with many historical parallels.
And if you still don’t believe in the offload story here the facts: Some 20-30 mobile carriers all over the world have integrated Wi-Fi into their mobile services offerings. In New York City, Towerstream has built a carrier-grade Wi-Fi offload network serving thousands of heavy users in what’s perhaps the most challenging environment in the world.
MSOs and the new ‘Wi-Fi First’ paradigm
We’re thrilled that the new Boston-based ‘Wi-Fi First’ service provider Scratch Wireless joined us at the Summit. Scratch says that users are in free Wi-Fi service areas some 80% of the time – so with a Scratch service, you pay for the phone and pretty much nothing else. I’ll be closely watching Scratch. I’m betting they’re going to be very successful with this business model.
Meanwhile, the MSOs – represented at the Summit by Time Warner Cable – are not far behind in embracing the ‘Wi-Fi First’ paradigm. TWC is rolling out a big carrier Wi-Fi network and working closely with other US MSOs through the CableWiFi Alliance. The US MSOs are arguably a formidable threat to the cellular service providers as their Wi-Fi footprint grows.
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The Wi-Fi Offload Summit is one of the best Wi-Fi events of the year. In case you were not able to attend, we’ve now collected the presentations from the Summit and the whole package of presentations can be purchased here.
- Accuris Networks – David Reeder
- Airtight Networks – Anthony Paladino
- Aptilo – Jonas Jacobsson
- BandwidthX – Pertti Visuri
- Birdstep – Michael Jonsson
- Boingo – Derek Peterson
- Boingo Media – Jon Landa
- Cloud4Wi – Ivan Muccini
- Devicescape – Dave Fraser
- Euclid Analytics – Mark Dahm
- InterDigital – Robert Gazda
- iPass – Evan Kaplan
- Purple Wifi – Anne Lakstigala
- Rethink Research – Peter White
- Ruckus – Steve Hratko
- Scratch Wireless – Jon Finegold
- Signalshare – Eddia Hales
- Socifi – Zdenek Hornych
- Towerstream – Scott Emond
- UTSTAR – Henry Wu
- Wi-Fi 360 – Adlane Fellah
- Wigo – Magnus Johansson