I have been tracking the development of two companies, Radioframe Networks and Kineto Wireless, for some time. Both companies are working on ways to improve the quality of in-building mobile/WLAN coverage. Is the time right for products in this space?
Overall, I think that the issue of in-building wireless coverage is becoming more of an issue for mobile users as we continue to rely on mobile phones as our de facto connection to friends, family, and business colleagues. Who hasn’t had the frustration of finding themselves in a building or home where mobile coverage is virtually unavailable? There are a few things to keep in mind:
Who Should Pay? One of the big questions here is who should pay to provide this service. Should building operators invest in this equipment to make their properties more attractive to potential tenants? Should wireless operators pay to put this equipment in high-traffic, difficult to cover areas (subway stations, buildings, etc.). Or, should consumers have the ability to purchase some type of device for their own home use? The issue of who should pay is important because it will likely determine where and how fast these services are rolled out.
Wireline Replacement is Happening This is probably an obvious statement, but an increasing number of people are substituting wireless phones for wireline connections. As this trend continues to gain momentum, I do believe that mobile users are going to become more interested in tools and technology that will improve the availability of wireless services.
Coverage Issues and Churn – I am willing to speculate that coverage issues have a major contribution to churn. For example, I know quite a few people who complain about how poor the mobile coverage is in their office or home and how they would like to find a way to improve it. Frequently, the approach that people apply is to rotate through carriers until they find one whose coverage area includes their home and/or office.