Curated Spot Check: Bucharest, Romania

Posted on January 26, 2014

A recent trip to Europe saw us in Bucharest for a Curated Spot Check. If you’ve seen earlier posts, you’ll know this is our way of doing an on-the-ground Wi-Fi assessment of our crowd-sourced curated Wi-Fi service. It involves field measurements, primary research, and data analysis of the Wi-Fi environment, so we can fine tune our local algorithms and better assist our operator customers in delivering the “always best connected” user experience. The bottom line in Bucharest? It’s a city surprisingly rich with amenity Wi-Fi—that’s the Wi-Fi that’s shared by venue owners and provided for customers and the public. In fact, it is easier to find and get on to Wi-Fi in Bucharest than most other European cities. Here are the highlights: Bucharest locals are high-frequency mobile data users: 30% of the population has a smartphone, a larger number than much of Eastern Europe. 80% of those device owners are heavy Internet users. Many young Romanians consider themselves to be tech-savvy, and there is a thriving resource of engineers and programmers. Bucharest venue/shop owners recognize the importance of smartphone use by their customers and make it as easy as possible to get on and get connected. Bucharest venue/shop owners are…

Curated Spot Check: Paris, France

Posted on October 28, 2013

This Curated Spot Check takes us to Paris, one of the most stylish, celebrated, and influential capitals in the world. It features beauty, tradition, and lots of Parisians, business travelers, and tourists. It’s also a city with the most complex Wi-Fi environment we’ve encountered so far. Voilà. Some of our findings. Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and FreeWiFi have a lock on most of the Wi-Fi in Paris. If you are one of their customers—as many of the locals are—you are in relatively good shape. If you’re a tourist, you are in for a disappointing experience relative to other world-class capitals. It seems that Paris is stuck in an earlier decade when Internet access was only for those with a business affiliation. For tourists, the one saving grace is the large municipal network called Paris Wi-Fi. The Ville de Paris and the Île-de-France region offer this free Internet service in more than 250 public places. (We accessed this network while shooting the above video in front of the Eiffel Tower. During the shoot, we observed lots of people taking and uploading photos via their smartphones.) As long as it’s free of congestion, tourists can connect to Paris Wi-Fi and get online….

Curated Spot Check: London, UK

Posted on September 9, 2013

Devicescape’s Curated Spot Check team recently visited London and the surrounding areas to perform an on-the-ground Wi-Fi assessment and incorporate the results into our local Curation process. As one of the world’s best cities, London leads in many areas, including Wi-Fi diversity and density.  Here are some of the highlights of what we learned: London has no shortage of Wi-Fi possibilities. Practically every Wi-Fi access model ever imagined exists—from the most complicated set-ups to the simplest and most accessible ones around.  And everything in between. There is a good chance you will find Wi-Fi in cafes, restaurants, pubs, retail shops, phone booths, cabs, fast food establishments, underground stations, outdoor plazas, shopping streets, fitness centers, grocery stores, and leading banks. A number of true Wi-Fi trendsetter/pioneers—including Barclays, Burberry, and Virgin Media—have  rolled out novel offerings in London. Barclays – With one or more branches on every major street, this institution appears more ubiquitous than Starbucks coffee shops. Recently, Barclays broke new ground in the banking industry by rolling out an amenity Wi-Fi service in each of their 1600 branches across the U.K.  Always focused on the customer experience, Barclays made the Wi-Fi access simple, easy, and open, with a simple click-through…

Curated Spot Check: Prague, Czech Republic

Posted on August 16, 2013

Devicescape’s Curated Spot Check team recently visited Prague to perform an on-the-ground Wi-Fi assessment in the Czech Republic. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become a premier tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it one of Europe’s most beautiful cities with a preserved historic town center and splendid architecture, but it hosts a diverse set of music venues, museums, monuments, and other cultural attractions.  It also features no shortage of accessible amenity Wi-Fi. Our team assessed Wi-Fi availability, attitudes, and quality throughout the city—at large hospitality chains, and at small independent businesses.  We also spot-checked an overwhelming number of tourist attractions such as the Prague Castle, the Municipal House, and the Old Town Square, which features the 1410-installed Astronomical Clock.  Here are some of the highlights from our assessment: The Prague Wi-Fi environment is extremely dense and fragmented. The density appears to be driven by the high number of tourists that increasingly expect Wi-Fi to be simple, free, and everywhere. The fragmentation stems from the fact that each venue owner chooses their own strategy and is not necessarily driven by a large third-party Wi-Fi provider. Major international food chains such as McDonald’s,…

Curated Spot Check: Warsaw, Poland

Posted on July 22, 2013

Devicescape’s Curated Spot Check team recently visited Poland to conduct an on-the-ground assessment of amenity Wi-Fi in historic Warsaw. With nearly  40 million people, Poland is one of the European Union’s biggest countries and a great beacon for Eastern Europe. The team assessed Wi-Fi availability, attitudes, and quality throughout the city—from global restaurant chains to local businesses and tourist locations such as the Old Town Square. Here are some of the highlights: Both indoor and outdoor hotspots are in abundance. Tens of thousands of hotspots were verified across a small sub-section of the city center. Amenity Wi-Fi is a well-established component of the city’s modern business infrastructure—both password-based and the more consumer-friendly, password-free variety—at  large multinational brands, smaller independent retailers, hotels, and at cultural locations. Public and private outdoor hotspots are fast emerging. For example, in recent years, Warsaw’s city government blanketed the city center with Wi-Fi, including the popular Royal Route, which begins at Warsaw’s Castle Square, runs south down the stately Krakowskie Przedmieście, and continues through the swanky Nowy Świat area. The Wi-Fi system is highlighted by “hotspot” street signs. Many of the city center businesses seem to rely on using this system, even though the signal quality…

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…