Madrid-based Gowex – a $900m company already powering wireless smart cities and WiFi networks in more than 80 cities worldwide – has announced a new initiative to merge public and private access WiFi services from mobile operators and businesses to create seamless roaming for consumers.
Called We-2, the new service will launch next month in New York with an initial network of more than 2000 WiFi hotspots across the City with plans to further expand aggressively across the busiest corridors of Manhattan, Queens and The Bronx. We2 launches on Dec. 15 in New York.
We2 will turn “private” hotspots – such as those found in shops and restaurants – into public hotspots. Users accessing the We2 network throughthe We2 App, will also be able to see other We2 users on the network, creating “ad hoc” localised relationships.
“In the same way Facebook is creating a social network around friends and family and LinkedIn around your professional life, We2 creates a social network based on what’s around you,” said Gowex general manager Carlos Gómez Vendrell.
The company said it plans to create We-2 merged WiFi hotspot networks in more than 300 cities by 2020.
“We-2 is not a substitute for building hi-speed city centre 4G networks,” Vendrell added, “but it is a solution to a congestion problem today, and will happily live alongside the networks of the future as demand for mobile data coverage continues to explode.”
GOWEX launched Wireless Smart Cities in New York, Paris Dublin, Buenos Aires and Madrid and will launch their new Social community WiFi app called We2 on December 15 in New York. It will act similar to Fon WiFi sharing, but combines both hardware and social software.
Europe’s Fon WiFi community uses a $59 Fonera WiFi router but lacks the sophistication of the GoWex system. Fon claims to have the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with over eight million hotspots as at July 2013.
Last month, Cisco and Facebook announced a similar partnership that allows Wi-Fi users to log into access points, using Facebook credentials, sharing their demographic data in the process.
Facebook Wi-Fi isn’t sharing the customer’s name with the network owner; instead it’s supplying the business demographic and social data drawn from the customer’s profile. The data is anonymous, but it could be used to send customers specific marketing promotions while they’re connected to the network.
Cisco Connected Mobile Experience with Facebook Wi-Fi offers a bundle of services to marketers supplied by Cisco and Facebook. Facebook Wi-Fi is currently available on Cisco’s Meraki routers, Cisco ISR Generation 2 and
ASR 1000 routers.
When customers walk into a store, they’re able to pick up a Wi-Fi network, which automatically directs them to a Facebook check-in page. The page contains information about the venue or possible discounts and specials.
Facebook said it had 819 million monthly mobile users (73%) out of its total 1.15 billion users in Q2 2013, up from 543 million (56%) of 955 million in Q2 2012. This figures people who have used Facebook mobile at least once, but may also have used desktop.
Facebook doesn’t share what total percentage of usage comes from mobile, but 41% of its ad revenue comes from phones and tablets, up from 30% in Q1 2013.
The big 5 cable operators have agreed to unite on a plan to allow their customers to freely roam across each others Wi-Fi hotspots. Cablevision, for one, has now deployed more than 100,000 hotspots in its tri-state NewYork/New Jersey footprint. More than 150,000 “CableWiFi” hotspots are now available nationwide in this partnership.
The “CableWiFi” network identifier (SSID) allows devices to auto-connect to a “CableWiFi” hotspot when in range. The wireless gateways that Comcast is installing in Xfinity Homes, contain two SSIDs, enabling consumer cable WiFi boxes to “share” their WiFi.
Comcast launched a network of more than 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in Utah this summer that will allow Xfinity Internet customers to access their partner’s nearby WiFi hotspots free. It will also be available to non-Comcast customers free of charge, but only for two, one-hour sessions every 30 days.
Cable operators hope to deploy “millions” of neighborhood hotspots, helping the MSOs compete with mobile carriers and truly “free” WiFi services, available in some hotels, city parks and public spaces. Both cable and cellular providers hope to dominate the market for WiFi by creating roaming networks between different providers – but you generally have to be a subscriber to get unlimited “free” WiFi.
Ubiquiti gear is inexpensive and powerful enough to allow many municipalities and businesses to provide truly free hotspot service, in high traffic areas, without the constant bombardment of advertising. Users of city parks, public spaces, or public service workers may not want advertisers following them around.
Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming so devices will automatically connect. It enables cable or carrier network to sponsor “free” WiFi networks using different providers. Location based advertising and data sharing generate the revenue for most these cloud-managed initiatives.
Today, over half of the global population lives in cities and 45 percent of them own a smartphone, notes Ericsson.
Worldwide carrier Wi-Fi deployments reached 4.9 million hotspots in 2012 and will surpass 6.3 million by the end of 2013, according to ABI Research. Mobile carriers are investing in Hotspot 2.0 offloading service which will provide free WiFi (for their customers).
People disagree over the trade off between “free” (ad-sponsored) networks and (ad-free) subscription services. But the move to “free” WiFi now seems inevitable with the development of Hotspot 2.0, cloud management, inexpensive hardware, consumer demand, and the cost/effectiveness of ad targeting.
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