The return of large scale WiFi deployments

Large scale WiFi projects are on the rebound after a hiatus (and the failure of several cities to complete the rollout of their municipal wireless networks) according to Patrick Nelson in his article, I Want My M-WiFi. There are several reasons:

  • Carriers are using Wi-Fi to offload cellular data traffic.
  • Operators are combining Wi-Fi and cellular subscriptions to attract new customers or keep existing ones.
  • People are demanding fast wireless broadband wherever they go and they do not want to exceed their data limits.
  • Many iPad users do not have cellular data plans associated with their iPads.

Read his article for more details.


  1. Very interesting indeed. I am wondering why you never refer to the spanish company Gowex. They deploy public wifi in large cities around the world. Their development over the last few years is remarquable, clearly outpacing Boingo and Ipass. Is it the “not invented here” syndroma ,-) All the best

  2. I have written about Gowex in the past but I don’t see their networks in many places where I travel. iPass and Boingo are different from Gowex; you find them in many airports, some large hotels, conference centres, etc. If you do a search on MuniWireless for Gowex, you will see we have covered them in several articles.

    I understand Gowex has a few free WiFi hotspots in New York City but I have not tried them yet. I don’t know how they make money where everyone else has failed. Maybe they have some secret Spanish magic.

  3. This is precisely what make them a phenomemon. They are making money and growing fast. They are bigger than Boingo now and their growth was 70% in 2012 (95% on their wifi business). They could be a game changer in my view.

  4. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen to them because things change so rapidly in this industry and as I (and MuniWireless readers) have seen so many times, people tend to believe overly optimistic projections. The graveyard is filled with companies that had businesses similar to that of Gowex. Don’t you remember all those WiFi companies that offered free WiFi service, like Gowex? They are all gone. Otherwise, we would have free WiFi in every city in the world.

    Free WiFi isn’t going to make Gowex wildly profitable. They need clients who pay them a lot of money for deploying infrastructure or for running their wireless services. Free WiFi can be a tiny piece of their PR, like a loss leader.

  5. The thing is that we are not talking about overly optimistic projections but overly successful RESULTS. and this have been the case for the last few years. Either this is all fake or there is a shift in market / business model which is worth understanding. When you see the list of their partners (ATT, DT, Skype, Boingo to name a few) and cities (Madrid, Dublin, Paris, Buenos Aires), it’s hard to think they are not a credible player. All the best,

  6. We will find out in due time if Gowex is a fake or not. They have glowing press releases but anyone can write that stuff. As for their deals, well, we shall see exactly how much money they make to sustain their business and whether the business grows in line with investors’ expectations. There are revenues and then, there are profits. The latter counts. And what counts most is how fast profits are growing. You’re right, we shall see. Given the track record of everyone else before them . . .

  7. It’s going to take better equipment outdoors to make those types of deployments profitable and billable. 802.11ac and new hardware innovations may finally bring municipal networks to a model that is financially feasible and actually works in high-interference and obstruction environments.

  8. Frenchie trend says

    Hi, Very interesting discussion,
    I am a little surprise of your position to GOWEX.
    GOWEX can’t be compared to BOINGO. BOINGO has a B to C business model and GOWEX has a B to B one.
    Boingo now trying to follow in the footsteps of Gowex, but is it too late?
    Gowex operates now 2000 Hotspot in New York, do you think it is actually small?
    Best regards,

  9. Frenchie,

    You pointed out the confusion with GOWEX’s business model. It builds outdoor networks for use by aggregators like Boingo; it does not deliver WiFi service directly to the end user. The problem is that the Gowex press releases aren’t clear about this.

    I have not used the new network in NYC. At some point this year I will be in NYC and will see if there is indeed free WiFi, how fast it is and how easy it is to log on. Just having free WiFi is not enough. I have discovered that many free WiFi networks don’t even work. And when they do, the log in process is so cumbersome, I just give up.