Disruptive WiFi marketplace BandwidthX goes global with Syniverse

BandwidthX, the company which has pioneered a cloud-based business-to-business marketplace for WiFi capacity, has announced a partnership with roaming company Syniverse, marking its international expansion three years after launch.

Syniverse, which provides roaming and IPX services for cellular and WiFi connectivity, has unveiled Mobile Marketplace. This will match service providers, especially MNOs, available WiFi capacity on an on-demand, pay-per-use basis, enabled by BandwidthX’s algorithms and marketplace platform.

BandwidthX’s proposition came to life as mobile operators realized the attractions of WiFi offload, though it has not disclosed any deals directly with MNOs. With its new partnership, it makes a significant move into the world of wholesale, enabling services which can potentially target large numbers of operators, taking advantage of Syniverse’s existing customer base of more than 1,000 mobile service providers around the world and its reach of over 6bn mobile devices.

The start-up says it will enable Syniverse to offer dynamic pricing, automated policies and advanced connection management services. In its system, a buyer of WiFi capacity specifies how much it needs, where and at what time of day, and then makes an offer of how much it is willing to pay. The system then matches this with capacity offers held in the marketplace. BandwidthX makes its money by taking the difference between the two prices as payment.

The company recently moved its BxMarket offering into the cellular space too, allowing MNOs to define their value for their mobile capacity, when this is in shared or open spectrum, and to trade automatically across ownership boundaries.

The potential of this approach is clear in a market in which LTE is moving into unlicensed and shared spectrum bands such as 5 GHz (LTE-LAA) and the US’s 3.5 GHz CBRS (MulteFire); and in which WiFi players like Boingo and Ruckus have been expanding into cellular.

Service providers like BT are increasingly combining WiFi and cellular in roaming packages, and by joining the BandwidthX trading platform with Syniverse’s IP roaming hub, this presents a genuinely viable alternative to carriers’ own offerings.

A cellular/WiFi BxMarket could turn the traditional MVNO model on its head, as cablecos, or others with significant WiFi assets, could use the trading platform to match hotspot owners with mobile operators and automatically assign a price and capacity required, instead of paying rigid annual MVNO fees for accessing cellular networks.

That could help Syniverse differentiate itself against operators’ own wholesale and roaming activities, in a market which can be tough for neutral parties. Some telcos are open to partnering – BT’s Global Telecoms Markets international wholesale arm white-labels Syniverse’s LTE and WiFi roaming services, for instance. But others see the independents as ripe for destruction. Vodafone Carrier Services, for instance, has said it will squeeze third party IPX players out of the market.

That makes services in adjacent markets like WiFi roaming important. Syniverse is involved in international WiFi deployments such as the City WiFi Roaming Project in Barcelona, Dublin and Singapore, for which it supplies roaming hubs, along with Accuris Networks and BSG Wireless. The initiative is designed to encourage cities, government bodies, fixed and mobile operators, vendors, web platforms and service providers, as well as retailers, to support a universal connectivity model.

Among its offerings, Syniverse has WiFi Roaming eXchange, which aims to make “mobile WiFi roaming as seamless as 3G/4G data roaming.”

BandwidthX CEO, Pertti Visuri, said: “The global WiFi footprint represents a very large and rapidly growing resource for all mobile devices. Better efficiency in accessing that footprint and streamlining procurement processes will bring significant value to the industry.”