March 3, 2008
Wireless Hotspots with a Hook
By Jennifer Rinaldi
Jungo has a goal: The Israeli-based gateway software maker seeks to transform every legacy broadband home gateway into an operator-controlled hotspot access point.
Jungo wants to enable operators to provide WLAN roaming service to their customers, inspiring subscriber loyalty through low cost coupled with wireless convenience. To accomplish this Jungo is touting NationZone, a middleware solution with the potential to create a national, unified Wi-Fi network.
"Operators need to acquire new subscribers and expand revenues while minimizing infrastructure and operational costs," said Eran Rom, CEO of Jungo. "With NationZone, operators can introduce new services, create more revenues and increase customer loyalty by utilizing the excess bandwidth and processing the power of millions of CPEs already deployed in the field."
Rom explained that Jungo's NationZone software could be remotely installed into existing customer premises equipment while maintaining security and bandwidth assurance for the subscriber's home.
Operators using NationZone would then be empowered to offer subscribers fixed mobile convergence through the use of Wi-Fi instead of GSM inside the wireless hotspot.
Subscribers, Rom believes, will be enticed by paying local landline call rates for fixed and cellular calls while they are in the hotspot range.
"There are many people who would be willing to pay less and get a lower bandwidth type of service," Rom said. "If you are a paying customer, you get first priority to secure the network and use whatever bandwidth you need. The rest is open to the street. The operator can provide excess bandwidth at lower rates."
Rom illustrates the NationZone's possibilities by employing the example of an operator with 1 million subscribers already equipped to use Jungo software. All that operator has to do, Rom said, is download the NationZone software, and "all of a sudden this operator has a hotspot network of 1 million different access points."
Another possibility, Rom says, is that this hypothetical operator can provide free or discounted roaming to its 1 million subscribers.
"It opens up a lot of ideas and services that the operator can introduce with almost zero upfront costs because the infrastructure is there already," Rom said. "The infrastructure is there as always. We can remote upgrade Jungo gateways and other gateways as well."
Jungo is betting that wireless convenience won't simply make customers happy, but that it will also inspire converts.
The company envisions a scenario wherein subscribers of other networks searching for an open Wi-Fi connection will discover they are inside a NationZone-powered operator hotspot. Potential customers will be offered free access to that hotspot, for a limited period of time, in return for agreeing to allow that the operator to engage them in some kind of sales pitch once the free trial period ends.
Jungo said new subscribers who sign on to the network inside the NationZone area via a low cost roaming wireless service may later be inspired to upgrade to fixed broadband service at home.
NationZone is currently undergoing beta testing in a number of unspecified operator pilot deployments.
- Jennifer Rinaldi