Multinational cableco Liberty Global has continued its multiplay push by extending its deal with wifi hotspot aggregator Devicescape to cover its entire European footprint.
Devicescape’s core offering is a ‘curated virtual network’ of public wifi hotspots. As public wifi becomes more ubiquitous it’s becoming possible to depend largely on public wifi for mobile data in urban environments. However few people can be bothered to keep signing in to new hotspots so the solution is to offer a single user account for most of them.
“Wifi is essential to our mobile strategy, boosting coverage and capacity – particularly indoors – while driving economic efficiencies which we can pass on to our customers,” said Graeme Oxby, MD of European Mobile Operations at Liberty Global. “By combining wifi and cellular as we are able to with the Devicescape solution, we are also delivering a significant improvement to the customer experience.”
As its deal with Vodafone in the Netherlands illustrates, Liberty has made the strategic decision to expand its multiplay capabilities, but seems keen to explore alternatives to full-on M&A activity. All consumers care about is uninterrupted connectivity and public wifi is an increasingly important component of the connectivity mix.
“Adoption by a company of Liberty Global’s stature is clearly a huge endorsement for Devicescape, and our unique approach to the curation of amenity wifi,” said Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape. “More importantly for the wider industry, this is the first top tier deployment of a service that truly integrates cellular with the huge resource of free, intentionally shared public wifi. It illustrates how insatiable consumer demand is driving development of new service models which are changing the nature of connectivity service provision.”
Devicescape has already working with Liberty in the UK through Virgin Media since February 2014, growing from 17,500 access points to 215,000 a year later and 500,000 by the end of 2015. The company recently published a report into UK public wifi, which found Greggs bakery offers the best quality wifi connections on the UK high street, but that the chemist chain Boots was the best when ease of access was also factored in.
With Amazon and Google launching smart home initiatives, have the telcos missed out on their chance to cash in on this market?
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