By Gary Griffiths, CEO
Well, Barron’s, since 1921 once of the world’s most widely read and respected financial newspapers, seems to think so. On September 28th, Barron’s Teresa Rivas penned a short article, “Wi-Fi is Still King, and How to Profit from It.” In this, Teresa references Benchmark analyst Scott Searle’s contention that even in the advent of LTE and the prospect of 5G, Wi-Fi still rules (“Apple’s Series 3, Other Wearables, and MSOs Could Use iPass,” September 28, 2017). For in fact, setting aside 5G hype, lots of BIG players continue to invest lots of BIG dollars in Wi-Fi infrastructure – credible players like Cisco, Comcast, Brocade/Ruckus, and Aruba to name just a few. “Yes, carriers talk unlimited LTE and the coming of 5G,” argues Searle, “but specs remain fluid and, spectrum unsettled and billions are required for the build-out.” Indeed, in my much younger days as an engineering exec in IBM’s Boca Raton, I remember the experts claiming that magnetic storage technology was dead, and that optical disk drives were the future. That was 1988. And I doubt that anyone could count the terabytes of magnetic storage capacity that have shipped and continue to ship long after that technology’s “death.”
And while all of this is good – and good for iPass – it is not the point. Maybe the point for iPass three years ago, but not now. For while Wi-Fi continues to pay our bills today, our future is in intelligent connection management, and the massive amounts of data we collect and consume to fuel those intelligent connections. As our customers and investors know well, we call the former iPass SmartConnect™, and the latter iPass Veri-Fi™. I know we often glaze eyeballs when we start riffing on wonky stuff like intelligent management, but last week the need for connection management became very clear with the difficulties the shiny new Apple watch was having negotiating connections between various technologies – including Wi-Fi. Hey Apple, we can help!
Point is, of course we love Wi-Fi. But we love 5G, and LTE, and LTE-U, and 3G and 4G and all the rest of the alphabet that our industry expects us all to understand. We love them all – and just want to make sure they all get along together. And if you want to understand at least one of the things Veri-Fi can do, consider this: when those 5G specs get sorted out and the spectrum gets settled and the billions of dollars get unleashed to spend on 5G, we’re betting iPass Veri-Fi will be the product that helps those operators place those 5G transmitters in the locations that most efficiently utilize these investments.
In short, iPass is no longer about reselling Wi-Fi. We’re happy making peace in the wild technology world of competing connection technologies, and providing the data to make operators and enterprises make the best use of the precious assets at their disposal. And also helping devices – all kinds of “things” without keyboards and displays and eyeballs and fingers – make a connection to the best available signal. So well said, Searle, and thanks, Rivas, for suggesting your readers should consider investing in iPass. We won’t disagree with either of you.