Devicescape has long offered a crowdsourced network of hotspots to carriers that have adopted a “Wi-Fi first” attitude, which aims to move as much traffic as possible of the expensive cellular network onto cheap public Wi-Fi. But Devicescape is now going after a different kind of carrier — one that wants to keep its customers on its 3G and 4G networks as much as possible and use Wi-Fi only as a last resort.
You can think of it as a “Wi-Fi second” attitude, and Devicescape is supporting that strategy with a new service called Coverage Continuity that acts as kind of traffic cop on a customer’s mobile phone. It detects when mobile coverage is poor or the network is overloaded and only then shifts customers over to nearby Wi-Fi hotspots if they’re available.
Coverage Continuity will work anywhere Wi-Fi and cellular are both present, but it’s an ideal indoor solution. The mobile network often has trouble punching through multiple walls, while Wi-Fi is readily available indoors. Once a strong cellular signal is detected, Devicescape then moves the device back onto the 3G or 4G network.
So why not just keep customers on the Wi-Fi network as often as possible, like the Wi-Fi–first guys? Well, Wi-Fi can be a fickle technology, as anyone who has tried to connect to a crowded coffee shop or airport hotspot can attest.
Devicescape’s network isn’t a private network where it can guarantee capacity to a carrier partner. Instead, Devicescape has aggregated millions of free amenity hotspots at stores, offices, restaurants and government networks in its global database and provides a device client that automatically connects to them. There’s a chance that any given hotspot might be more congested than the actual cellular network, so Coverage Continuity gives carriers much more control over when and how their customers connect to public Wi-Fi.