GOWEX is a publicly traded Spanish company based in Madrid with two lines of business: (1) GOWEX Telecom Services provides communications services such as VPNs, high-speed enterprise grade broadband, point-to-point circuits, VoIP, to businesses; and (2) GOWEX Wireless creates large Wi-Fi hotzones that integrate the Wi-Fi networks of local associations, private and public entities, and allows people to use one username and password to gain access to all of these networks.
For example, a GOWEX “Wi-Fi City” is created by bringing together the city hall, libraries, government buildings, newsstands with Wi-Fi, restaurants, cafes and private businesses. If you are a GOWEX customer, you gain access to all of these Wi-Fi networks, as well as GOWEX networks in other cities, using the same login credentials. In this way, GOWEX works a lot like Boingo (whose service I use) because you have one Boingo account and you use it to log into all of Boingo’s networks including those that use Boingo as a roaming partner.
Because Spain is a popular tourist destination, GOWEX takes into account the number of tourists who will use their network and has strategically targeted places such as the Costa del Sol with Wi-Fi hotspots at beachside cafes and restaurants.
GOWEX brings all of these Wi-Fi hotspots under the Gowex Wireless Roaming Platform which allows users to jump from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another without going through different networks. One of the main drivers of GOWEX’s business is the dissatisfaction with 3G networks among people who use smartphones. As 3G networks become more crowded, users complain of dropped calls and slow speeds. This is a major problem in metropolitan areas such as London, Paris, and New York City, and it is now becoming a problem in Madrid and Barcelona as well. In order to change this, GOWEX is entering into agreements with alternative mobile Wi-Fi operators, the most recent of which is with MÁSMovil, to provide access to Wi-Fi all over Spain.
Terms of the MASMovil agreement with GOWEX:
– MASMovil users can use GOWEX WiFi networks for free for a period of 6 months and MASMovil pays GOWEX whenever MASMovil users log onto the GOWEX network;
– After the six-month period expires, users of MASMovil who still want to use the GOWEX network pay a special (discounted) price: €6 per month (€2 per month discount). The revenue coming from these users will be shared with MASMovil.
The “freemium” business model of GOWEX has been quite successful because of the spectacular increase in the number of smartphones and users’ preference for high-speed connections via Wi-Fi. GOWEX wants to become like Boingo and iPass, by integrating into their network all Wi-Fi providers and giving users a simple one-step login.
In Latin America, GOWEX has a presence in Buenos Aires after launching Wi-Fi in the main squares of the capital (which has more than 17 million residents). Wi-Fi will soon be available underground in the metro stations.
The objective, which seemed impossible a few years ago, is becoming a reality: GOWEX wants to provide Wi-Fi where it does not exist yet, and that is on the streets. If GOWEX succeeds in providing Wi-Fi outdoors in 80 percent of a city, smartphone and tablet users will no longer have to put up with lousy 3G connections and visitors won’t have to suffer from outrageous data roaming charges on their phone bills when they return home.
The largest GOWEX Wi-Fi cities in Spain are Madrid, Sevilla, Malaga, Granada, Principado Asturias, Bilbao and Burgos. Several more will be announced after the city councils approve their agreements with GOWEX.