BandwidthX 'ahead of plan' on sales of excess Wi-Fi capacity

BOSTON -- Startup BandwidthX is notching millions of connections per day on its Marketplace, which essentially sells excess capacity on Wi-Fi networks to MVNOs, mobile network operators and others.

CEO and Founder Pertti Visuri said the company is "on plan or ahead of plan."

Though Visuri declined to provide specifics, he said "millions" of smartphones and other devices connect to its Bandwidth Marketplace server in real time through millions of Wi-Fi access points around the country and the globe. He added that there are tens of millions of smartphones and other devices hitting the global consumer market that can automatically connect to the company's Wi-Fi service -- meaning the devices sport built-in code that can allow the user or a service provider to switch the gadget's Wi-Fi service onto BandwidthX's servers.

Visuri also declined to name the startup's customers, but he said a number of MVNOs in the United States and globally use the company's technology to offload their customers' data traffic from cellular networks and onto Wi-Fi networks, where the cost of access is cheaper. Indeed, MVNOs like Republic Wireless and Google's Project Fi have built their business around the notion of seamless offloading to Wi-Fi.

Visuri made his comments here at the cable industry's INTX trade show, and the company's progress is noteworthy considering the wireless industry's growing interest in unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi. T-Mobile US last year tested an offloading service that automatically connected customers' phones in two Florida cities onto cable operator Bright House Networks' public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Bright House is a member of the Cable WiFi Alliance, which was formed in 2012 by Bright House, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and other cable operators to support roaming among the cable companies' public Wi-Fi hotspots. T-Mobile's test appeared to indicate the wireless carrier's intention to tap into that public Wi-Fi network to improve its coverage, though the test ended late last year and T-Mobile hasn't announced anything further on the topic.

BandwidthX was founded in 2011 to connect users who want Wi-Fi connections with the network operators that have capacity. BandwidthX essentially provides a market where both carriers and internet service providers can define their value for capacity in real time and are automatically matched when their values align.

The company's technology is primarily geared to work on Android phones because access to the Wi-Fi software those devices is more readily accessible due to the open nature of the operating system. However, Visuri said that the company has also developed a technique to allow iPhones to access its service, though he said connecting iPhones to participating Wi-Fi hotspots isn't as seamless as it is on Android.

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