Global Wireless Solutions
Where it's based: Dulles, Va.
When it was founded: 1996
Why it's Fierce: Although Global Wireless Solutions has been around for more than a decade, this performance monitoring company recently developed a creative new way to handle drive-test data collection. The firm's iPhone application, called TroubleSpots, lets iPhone users report in real time when they experience poor (or no) network coverage, dropped calls, failed calls or a failed data connection. Remember all those complaints from iPhone 3G users about AT&T's 3G network coverage? Global Wireless Solutions provides, well, a solution.
The application is free and available through Apple's iTunes App Store. The goal of the offering, according to GWS President Paul Carter, is two-fold: First, TroubleSpots empowers iPhone users to alert GWS to network problems; and second, it helps mobile operators optimize the performance of their voice and data networks.
GWW, which counts about 150 employees, has grown extensively over the past five years as it focused on network optimization, performance monitoring and benchmarking. Carter says that while the company traditionally used test equipment from other vendors to do its drive-test data collection, it felt like the iPhone offered a new opportunity for the firm to correlate its own real-time data with that of the consumer. "The goal is to help optimize networks everywhere," Carter says.
Interestingly, though, Carter warns that the company's new testing app isn't a tool for bashing the network or the carrier. "We are not publicly showing the information. We are correlating it," Carter says. "Operators want to make (their coverage) better, but they don't always know how to prioritize and focus the data they collect. We are trying to create a solution."
What's next: With the proliferation of smartphones and app stores, look for GWS to create similar applications for phones beyond that of the "i" variety. Carter also hinted that the application could be embedded on devices, rather than offered as a download.