HetNets: The Case For Amenity Wi-Fi

Posted on June 18, 2013

Everybody using a smartphone knows that as more and more people are added to the networks, and more and more applications come online, each with increasing bandwidth demands, the performance they individually see from the mobile network drops. My own personal experience here in the SF bay area has shown that LTE has dropped from a consistent 25-30 Mbps when I first got an LTE handset, to around 15 Mbps today. The spectrum available for these networks is limited, so adding more people into a given geographic area means less for each user. Solutions The industry is talking about a number of solutions to this issue, and it is very likely that there will not be just one solution, but rather that a combination of different approaches will be needed. The most commonly talked about options are: Additional Spectrum – There is continued pressure on governments to make more RF spectrum available for mobile operators to license. Small Cells – The addition of capacity within the area of a macro cell to either improve performance at the edges of the macro coverage, or to ease pain points, such as in train stations or shopping malls where the user density increases….

iPad Mini

Posted on October 23, 2012

Earlier today Apple announced its long expected entry in to the smaller tablet market. With an almost 8″ screen size, the screen space is larger than the obvious competition (Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices and Google’s Nexus 7), and that matters with a device primarily used for consuming media. But, it is also a fair bit more expensive than those other offerings, especially if you are thinking of springing for the dual radio Wi-Fi + 4G LTE version. Free Wi-Fi But wait, why would you pay an extra $130 for that cellular radio when free Wi-Fi is appearing everywhere? Don’t believe me? Look around. In the last 10 months we have seen free Wi-Fi come online at more and more venues. Early on, the trend setters outside of the cafe/restaurant space were Macy’s, Home Depot, Nordstom and Staples all showing strong usage on Black Friday last year. Now that list has grown to include Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Saks Fifth Ave, Pacific Sunwear, Kohls, Winn-Dixie, Krogers and Office Depot to name a few from the top of our daily connections list. Several of the large mall owners are also offering free Wi-Fi throughout their facility, allowing you to remain connected to…

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…

The Rise Of Retail WiFi

Posted on March 1, 2012

Everybody is used to free WiFi in coffee shops, airports and even restaurants, but perhaps less well known is the amount of WiFi in other public places, in particular retail stores. Our dashboard at Devicescape shows an increasing number of retail venues offering free WiFi. Topping the list of places you might not expect to find WiFi are The Home Depot and Sam’s Club, but there are entries in our reports almost every day from Macy’s, Nordstrom, Staples, Safeway, Whole Foods Markets, Winn Dixie and Kroger. And then there are the malls too, with the Macerich owned malls coming out as our clear winners in providing WiFi access to shoppers every day. Users Want It Our Q4 survey shows that over 80% of respondents would be more likely to visit a store if their device could automatically connect to free in-store WiFi. In many retail locations cellular coverage is poor or non-existent, so being able to have that “always on” data connection hop automatically onto a WiFi network makes a lot of sense. Even if you can’t call or text because your carrier connection has gone, you can still email, IM, Skype etc over the store’s WiFi network. In Store…

The Ultrabook I want to see

Posted on January 17, 2012

One of the bigger stories from last week’s CES was the Ultrabook. Whether or not you agree with the oft-repeated dialog that Ultrabooks are merely Macbook Air copies — and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – you probably feel it’s a good thing that the PC makers are trying hard to make better products.  Although I’m all for sharp design, lower weight, instant on etc, my own personal belief is that the PC world is somewhat missing the point with the current emphasis of the Ultrabook. The big picture isn’t about competing with Macs, it’s about the mass transition to mobile and how that affects the PC industry as a whole. So, what’s my issue?  I think that the least important difference between notebooks and today’s mobile devices is weight, design, and instant on. Those are all things that the PC industry should have been working on anyway.  Even touch, which isn’t in evidence in the current crop of Ultrabooks but shows up in the roadmap, isn’t such as big of a factor given the rich interface of the PC.  No, to me the biggest issue is around connectivity and the constant availability of the network. Think about…

Black Friday: The Data

Posted on December 5, 2011

Michael has already taken a look at the Black Friday data we saw in our regular reports, and the reasons why WiFi might matter for retailers like Macy’s, Safeway and Home Depot to include free access in their stores. I’m going to look at this data from a different perspective completely, and think about what we can tell just from the connection trends we see, and whether there is an additional value that a retailer could gain from their free service in terms of what they can deduce from usage. The bar graph to the right (click on it to get a larger version) shows the percentage change in number of connections for each day of the black Friday week compared to the preceding week. As expected, all the networks in this sample showed a drop in traffic on Thanksgiving day. Interestingly, not to zero, but that might be partially explained by all the connection times being recorded in PST, so some of the early morning Friday connections from stores in more eastern time zones would have been counted as Thursday connections. Foot Traffic I’m sure all of these stores have detailed reporting on their sales over this period, but…