Curated Virtual Network

Posted on July 20, 2012

There seems to be a big misunderstanding about the way Devicescape's network is curated, and the types of location that are included. The venues that are part of Devicescape's curated virtual network are places like the cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels, libraries, hospitals, transit systems and retail establishments that installed free wifi for the benefit of their customers.

Sitting at a bar, the person sitting next to me responds to the popup advising them of the availability of open wifi on their iPhone by connecting to the bar's network. Are they freeloading or leeching? Of course not! The bar owner installed the free wifi for their customers to use. My Android phone, running our software, was just one step ahead in that it automated that selection, getting me the best data connection it could find, rather than bugging me about it. They're not called smart phones for nothing. And at the same time, it checked the quality of the connection to make sure I got a good experience. As a consumer, I win by getting a faster, free connection to the Internet that doesn't eat into my cellular data allowance. The carrier that is paying us for the service wins by getting some data off their cellular network and by having a happy subscriber. The venue wins because they too have happy customers; customers who don't need to leave the bar to check their email, or check in on Foursquare, or show their friends the latest viral video.

Perhaps what is leading to this confusion, is the belief that the only open networks out there are commercial hotspots and residential ones where the user does not know how to secure them. The truth is very different from that. I spent a few days in the Monterey area this week, and everything from the small café in Marina where I had breakfast to the Wyndham owned hotel we stayed in had free WiFi for their visitors. Spend a morning in the fantastic aquarium in Monterey, and they too have free WiFi around their entire facility. Shop at Macy's or Nordstrom; they have free WiFi. Need something from Home Depot for that weekend project; they have free WiFi. Target and Walmart are rolling out free customer WiFi. Many malls already have it, as do many hospitals and medical facilities. All the places where people spend time are adding free WiFi for their customers and visitors.

And there is so much bandwidth behind this global WiFi network that concerns over congestion caused by all these smart phone users jumping on to WiFi are unfounded. Conservatively, if we assume each of these venues has a low speed 1.5 Mbps DSL behind it. That means our 8 million locations today have a total available bandwidth of over 11 Tbps. And every location we add, increases that number. If even 1% of those venues are hooked up over a 12 Mbps cable network instead of a slow DSL, that's an extra terabyte per second of capacity in our curated virtual network.

If for some reason the bandwidth at a given venue happens to be lower one day, our smart client's tests will discover that and disconnect; making sure you get the best possible data connection