Wi-Fi connection vendor iPass said it plans to sell usage and traffic information gleaned from its network of 60 million hotspots, an effort by the company to open up a new revenue stream in the big data market.
“Veri-Fi is our big data capability,” iPass CEO Gary Griffiths told FierceWirelessTech.
Griffiths explained that Veri-Fi, initially announced earlier this year, is essentially a collection of all the usage and network information gleaned by iPass’ roughly 100,000 users across the millions of hotspots the company has aggregated into its service. Today, iPass is using that information to improve its service and prevent customers from roaming onto poorly performing Wi-Fi hotspots.
“It’s helping us immediately in the quality of service. This is where we’re able to detect, in simple terms, a good network from a bad network,” he said. “We also can map, based on reliability and success rate, where iPass hotspots are versus where they’re not. So if there’s a network that’s not in our footprint that’s getting a lot of traffic, that becomes a very high priority for us to be able to go out and procure it," and add it into the iPass network.
But starting next year, Griffiths said iPass will begin to sell that information to third parties that want to know the location and performance of Wi-Fi hotspots and other networks pinged by iPass’ client software in its customers’ devices.
“We’ve already started talking to potential customers who are interested in our data. At this point this is completely inbound [interest],” he said. “It has definitely stirred up some interest, and there are about a dozen active customer conversations going on right now, including one that we’ll talk about publicly in the next 30 days or so.”
Griffiths explained that the information collected by iPass’ Veri-Fi service can be used for a variety of applications, from stock recommendations based on foot traffic to specific geographic locations to information for network technicians servicing different hotspots.
“There’s all kind of applications that we’re just starting to see that would benefit from the data we collect,” he said, and added that “our technology can detect virtually anything that has a network address.”
Griffiths in August noted that iPass had teamed with Fast Forward Labs, a New York City startup that specializes in demystifying analytics, in an attempt to glean more value from the “obscurity of big data.”
Not surprisingly, Griffiths was careful to note that “we’re not identifying the user,” he told FierceWirelessTech.
Griffiths said the company expects to score revenues from the sale of Veri-Fi data starting next year. “We’re collecting requirements information, and that’s helping us shape what will ultimately look like a product definition that we can go out and market and sell,” he said.
Of course, iPass isn’t the only network provider looking to sell data based on customers’ usage. Sprint, Verizon and other wireless carriers have created similar businesses.