Wi-Fi is among the hottest technologies out there, gaining the attention of both carriers and enterprises. With the latest round of earnings reports from a number of hardware vendors and Wi-Fi aggregators, attention has centered on a handful of leading Wi-Fi-related companies. While some Wi-Fi companies aren’t faring well, others are soaring, revealing some solutions that are “ones to watch.” Here are a few key takeaways from the latest round of earnings reports.
With an earnings increase of 7.7 percent since last year, Boingo is showing the demand for a solution to the growing strain on carriers’ networks. Boingo’s wholesale solutions allow telecommunications companies to increase their offerings through distributed antenna systems, roaming services, platform services, and turnkey solutions for the military has proven quite profitable. Recently the company announced it will be partnering with a top-tier US provider to address network capacity issues using Wi-Fi on a trial basis. While the name of the carrier is being kept confidential at the carrier’s request, such a partnership would be big news for the growing company and the proliferation of carrier Wi-Fi among MNOs.
iPass reported revenue of $17.30 million for its most recent quarter, but perhaps most notable is its user growth. The company experienced an increase of 36 percent in its Open Mobile Active Platform users and 34 percent in its Open Mobile Wi-Fi users. In the past year, iPass has also enjoyed 27 percent growth in the Wi-Fi hours used on its paid network. The company estimates Wi-Fi hotspots will grow to 340 million worldwide by the year 2018. The U.S. already trails France in the number of hotspots nationwide, but iPass sees the U.S. taking the top spot over the next four years. The company is however looking at strategic options as it remains too dependent on revenues from Wi-Fi roaming which is proving slow to scale.
Wi-Fi Access Point Vendors
With revenue up 23.3 percent from the same quarter in 2013, Ruckus Wireless is seeing increased demand for public Wi-Fi access in consumer-facing enterprises and public venues. The company recently announced a new Wi-Fi hub designed specifically for small businesses with less than 100 employees. Unlike other business networks that require controllers on site or in cloud, Ruckus’s can be set up and managed from a smartphone app. The SMB cloud-based Wi-Fi segment is seen by various AP vendors as the next biggest market opportunity and where OTTs such as Google will play an active part. Gigaom reported that Google plans to subsidize and manage local businesses’ Wi-Fi networks in exchange for using their access points as part of a larger virtual network accessible to Google users.
Ubiquiti Network’s earnings decline has been attributed to the company’s investments in research and development. While the company brought in more revenue than it did during the same quarter in 2013, it also spent significantly more on research and development as it prepares to release several significant technology offerings in Fiscal Year 2015/
Aruba Networks reported an increase of 32.5% compared to the previous year. The company recently moved into a new area with its Aruba Mobile Engagement, which helps businesses launch location-specific marketing campaigns. By moving into this area, Aruba Networks hopes to connect with a new customer base, consisting of retail and hospitality companies. The technology will push promotions to on-site users ‘mobile devices.
With the lines blurring between the Telco and enterprise markets, we can expect AP vendors to increase their product lines and work closer with OTTs to manage thousands to millions of Aps from a centralized data center to create virtual centrally managed private networks.