Driving innovation around Wi-Fi access, Uros has created the Goodspeed 3G/4G mobile hotspot that allows its customers with internet access wherever they are traveling internationally.
Innovatively utilizing Wi-Fi, Goodspeed converts the wide coverage of mobile operators 4G/3G/2G networks into a personal network where the user can connect all their devices over Wi-Fi. The service is already getting quite popular and today there are 77 destinations where ‘Goodspeed’ service is available. Tommi Uhari the CEO of Goodspeed speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s plans and how Wi-Fi can be efficiently monetized.
How do you look at the future of Wi-Fi as an access technology?
The future of Wi-Fi is dependent on the future of digitisation and the business working environment. The internet has brought a revolution, bringing people together digitally and changed business thinking, information sharing, work practice and the marketing strategies. More than half of Internet traffic is estimated to come from Wi-Fi by 2016 (Cisco VNI). This change in business working means that consumers will expect Wi-Fi at their fingertips no matter where they are travelling.
With this in mind there is pressure for public Wi-Fi areas to improve to coincide with growing customer demand and expectations.
The real question is who is responsible? Companies offering free Wi-Fi cannot be profitable. It is possible that in the future access to data anywhere will be seen as a local or national government issue.
Uros has created the Goodspeed 4G mobile hotspot to allow people internet access wherever they travel. It converts the wide coverage of mobile operators 4G/3G/2G networks into a personal network where the user can connect all their devices over Wi-Fi.
We already see a lot of operators putting great emphasis on Wi-Fi deployment – how can they do more with their existing infrastructure while embracing next gen Wi-Fi technologies?
Operators are already meshing Wi-Fi and cellular to manage network requirements, with several operators providing Wi-Fi calling when the technology is available. The challenge for operators is twofold – monetising Wi-Fi and providing an adequate level of service to the user. We may see in the future fast lanes for people who wish to pay more for better Wi-Fi access.
Uros is working with a number of operators in the world using it’s Goodspeed solution for Wi-Fi on-loading: providing people with a personal mobile Wi-Fi network that connects to the operators 4G/3G/2G networks.
There is also this quest to monetize on the WiFi deployment – what are some of the innovative monetization models that can work well with Wi-Fi?
It is crucial that monetization strategies do not interrupt the user experience. For example, advertising is all well and good but if optimised incorrectly it can have a huge impact on a user’s productivity. However, the key to future advertising models is relevance. For example service providers can monetize their Wi-Fi networks by partnering with advertisers to offer subscribers targeted notifications and access to retailer loyalty programs and coupons based on contextual information, such as where they are and what they want to buy.
Another avenue for successful monetization is leveraging premium services such as access to high quality streamed media. To do this Wi-Fi network providers have the opportunity to partner with OTT content providers to ensure superior delivery and user experience. Uros has seen that users are willing to pay for a predictable good quality experience. The model Uros uses with its Goodspeed service is a pay-by-day model. Users pay for international data access with their mobile network connected Goodspeed devices only on the days they power up their Goodspeed devices. The Goodspeed device then creates a personal Wi-Fi network that allows the user a generous data allowance of typically 1GByte per day.
How can Wi-Fi co-exist with next generation 3G or 4G LTE technologies?
User simply want digital access – they don’t care if it is over cellular or Wi-Fi. Therefore the development of Wi-Fi is intrinsically linked with cellular. If a user, for example, has enough data in a bundle never to need Wi-Fi, they will probably never use it. At the same time operators are managing cellular traffic through the use of Wi-Fi calling. Security is a huge factor that needs to be addressed to ensure that Wi-Fi and 3G/4G technologies can co-exist. For example, research has shown that as much as 38% of Wi-Fi hacking takes place on hotel networks. This is a staggering figure and sheds light on a community of ‘black hat’ hackers that infiltrating Wi-Fi connections, stealing users online ID with access to company servers, emails and critical business information.
This very real threat is what holds the key to co-existence. The Goodspeed product is proof of operator support for embracing the need to keep people connected regardless of the technology. Goodspeed uses cellular networks (4G/3G/2G) for connecting to the internet, and makes the internet connection available with Wi-Fi.
What are your future plans to expand your operations to India or other SAARC countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc?
Goodspeed is available for order all over the world from the Goodspeed website www.goodspeed.io with a credit card.
In all countries users can add their own SIM card for domestic usage. Goodspeed focuses on helping the users get access when they travel internationally. For SAARC, Goodspeed currently works in India as an international destination. There are 77 where the Goodspeed service works today.
The Goodspeed service has grown from servicing a small number of countries to most of the globe in a short space of time. Our objective is to be available around the world, offering users a predictable, transparent price for data access anywhere in the world at a great price.
We will continue to add countries as more and more operators see the benefit of signing up to the Goodspeed service. Out of SAARC the Goodspeed service currently covers India, and Uros is very willing to engage with the leading mobile operators from all the SAARC countries.
What are the big challenges that you see towards realizing the full potential of Wi-Fi today? How can these be overcome in near future?
The biggest challenge for realising the full potential of Wi-Fi is the challenge to offer a cost effective service that does not hinder the provider’s revenue. There is an ever increasing number of Wi-Fi enabled devices that are being actively used, often alongside each other, to not only carry out menial tasks such as browse the internet but increasingly to work whilst on the go. This increase in demand, combined with an increase in expectation with regards to speed and reliability is a challenging combination to overcome. In order to entice users to use Wi-Fi networks, businesses such as hotels for example, need to spend more money on bandwidth to keep up with demand but, if offering a free service, may never reap the rewards.
This is where innovative monetization strategies come in to play. At Uros we also believe in giving people a consistent experience of Wi-Fi access wherever they may be. Using the Goodspeed 4G mobile hotspot does exactly that – the automatic connection to the operator networks and converting that to a personal Wi-Fi network gives users effectively the same experience of having all their devices connected to a Wi-Fi network they would have at home.
How do you look at the Public Wi-Fi deployments in Asia? What role can be played by a unique operator such Uros?
Public Wi-Fi has to be funded somehow, either by taxes, cost of access or advertising.
Uros plays a role by providing more data than a business person could need for a single low daily cost anywhere in the world. We see the importance of always being connected and do not believe that location or cost should impact this.