Taking Curation to the Streets

Posted on July 17, 2013

In our curation of the world’s largest virtual network of Wi-Fi hotspots, we constantly refine Devicescape’s machine-learning algorithms to ensure that they perform optimally not only in the aggregate but also at the local city and street level. The ultimate form of local curation is what we call a “Curated Spot Check.” The Curated Spot Check process includes our QA team doing an on-the-ground assessment of the local Wi-Fi environment, and our marketing team conducting primary market research to evaluate the local views of venue owners and end-users. The Devicescape team compiles their research and fuses the local learnings back into our Curator Service for service providers and PopWiFi proximity marketing offering for venue owners.

As we observe different cities around the world, we see two constants: an abundance of smartphones and a plethora of Wi-Fi networks. IDC reports that manufacturers will ship 918 million smartphones this year, which will account for 50% of all mobile phone shipments worldwide. As smartphone penetration continues to gather pace in global markets, more and more local residents, business travellers, and tourists will want to stay connected wherever they are―and often that means seeking out low-cost Wi-Fi. Venue owners increasingly deploy Wi-Fi in public establishments because it turns out to be good for business. It increases footfall and provides a channel to communicate with customers directly through marketing and promotions. According to a recent Deloitte study, “The Dawn of Mobile Influence,” people who use their smartphone in a retail location are 14% more likely to make a purchase there. And if they visit the store website or app while inside, the likelihood of a purchase increases to 33%. By offering access to the internet via amenity Wi-Fi, a hotspot that is provided by the business owner for their customers and sometimes the greater public to use, venue owners can set the stage for a more robust customer experience and increased revenue.

We see amenity Wi-Fi growing at a rapid clip around the world. What started in cafes and fast food chains is quickly spreading to almost every bar, restaurant and retail shop. For example, high-end retailers often want to cater to travellers from other countries to help them communicate with family and friends at home and ease decision-making. It doesn’t stop there, either. Businesses as diverse as laundromats, medical offices, and even banks are rolling out Wi-Fi. Barclays Bank, for instance, recently rolled out amenity Wi-Fi in thousands of branch offices across the UK to help customers with online banking.

While the overall use of amenity Wi-Fi is growing, it is in different stages of development in every city and region of the world. The international chains tend to lead the way with simple, open Wi-Fi that doesn’t put an inconvenient password between the customer and the connection. The local independent venue owners are sometimes influenced by the big chains, but at other times they seem be off on their own path. This uncertainty creates a truly chaotic Wi-Fi environment with customers often unsure of when Wi-Fi is available and how they should connect.

It’s also precisely the problem that we are solving at Devicescape. We bring quality control and a simplified connection experience to a chaotic, disparate, and massive network. Our goal is ambitious: to get every user connected to the best network at all times, no matter where they happen to be.

To deliver this always-best-connected experience, we work closely with service providers and venue owners to create the world’s largest Wi-Fi access platform. Using our Curator Service, we have assembled a Curated Virtual Network (CVN) of more than 12 million (and growing) quality-controlled hotspots. They are curated from more than 200 million access points that we actively monitor worldwide.

Integrating a curated Wi-Fi network like ours into a mobile operator’s existing network infrastructure can transform the capacity-reach of the total network and provide a high-quality experience for their users, while alleviating cellular data congestion on their networks. Our PopWiFi proximity marketing service has the potential to vastly increase the quality and size of the CVN a step further by enabling the venue owners to generate value over Wi-Fi that adds to their bottom line.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll start showcasing both written and video highlights of our Curated Spot Checks in this blog. We invite you to check back and see how the curation of amenity Wi-Fi is transforming the mobile data experience for operators and subscribers around the world.