An invisible hand for wireless broadband

6 June 2013 by Steve Blum
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What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Shortages are often – some would say always – the result of a market failure. Supply and demand are functions of both the physical availability of a good or service and the price deemed acceptable by both parties in the transaction. If the balancing mechanisms don’t exist, suppliers are left with unsold inventory and buyers do without.

Wireless bandwidth is a classic example. Who hasn’t tried to connect a smart phone and found no mobile carrier signal and only locked down WiFi? Physically, the bandwidth is there and probably not being used at full capacity. But there’s no way for supply to meet demand.

Until now, maybe.

BandwidthX is a Carlsbad, California start-up that’s launching a marketplace where ad hoc WiFi networks can cut on the fly deals with mobile carriers to offload traffic and supplement coverage…

The Market is open to all participants. If you have Wi-Fi capacity that, during any part of the day, is not fully utilized, name your price and let us know about it. If any part of your mobile network, at any time of the day, could use some capacity, let us know what it would be worth to you. We’ll do the rest.

It’s reasonably transparent to the subscriber. Authentication runs from an app through BandwidthX to the mobile operator. Details on the technology are slim right now, though. More details should emerge from the company’s coming out party at the WiFi Global Congress in London next week. If it works, it’s the right kind of platform at just the right time.