Devicescape now has 20 million Wi-Fi access points in its global virtual network – likely including some of yours. The company has built its business model off of other people’s broadband, tapping into the vast number of Wi-Fi nodes that homes, businesses and governments leave open for the public to use.
Considering the company had 12 million access points at this time last year, its growth rate is impressive. Devicescape estimates by 2017 its network will surpass the 100 million node mark.
Devicescape started out targeting consumers. Customers downloading its app to their device not only have access to its crowdsourced Wi-Fi footprint, but they also help it to grow as their phones constantly scan the unlicensed airwaves for new open access points.
Devicescape doesn’t just dump every free Wi-Fi signal into its network, though. It curates the network, verifying that an access point will provide consistent speeds before it’s included. It collects data on 315 million access points, but only about 6 percent make it onto the network its customers connect to.
A lot of Devicescape’s recent growth came when it pulled the trigger on its revenue model. It’s been selling access to the network to carriers and ISPs, and it recently had a flurry of customer wins among the regional mobile operators and tech companies. Cricket, C Spire, U.S. Cellular, Republic Wireless, T-Mobile’s MetroPCS group and Bouygues Telecom in France all use the Devicescape network in some form. Microsoft and Intel have also begun integrating Devicescape’s software into Windows Phone 8 and Ultrabooks respectively.
As those partners connect more customers to Devicescape, its base of crowdsourced Wi-Fi sniffers has grown. Consequently, Devicescape’s network is strongest in the U.S. where 19 million of its 20 million hotspots reside. In San Francisco alone Devicescape has 30,000 hotspots, making it one of the biggest wireless data networks in the Bay Area.