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European aggregator Trustive is taking a combined wholesale and retail approach to the market: Trustive is a hotspot aggregator with 12,000 hotspots as part of its network, mainly in Europe. The company sells directly to end users but also sells wholesale access to the hotspots to other operators, such as ISPs or mobile operators. A deal with Mach, a company that specializes in inter-operator deals, can help with billing and other backend services. Tele2, one of the largest telecom resellers in Europe, is a Trustive customer, reselling hotspots under its own brand.
On the retail end, because Trustive doesn’t have a well-know brand, it has started by selling the service in just a few countries and has developed marketing agreements with companies including Nokia, Sony, Dell, and Belkin. Consumers who buy products from such brands will get a deal on Trustive access. “That’s for us an easier route to reach customers because they’re already familiar with that brand,” said Bram Jan Streefland, Trustive co-founder and director of business development.
The fact that Trustive offers both retail and wholesale access is unique, he said. The retail side of the business is valuable because once a new customer signs up for service, Trustive can begin earning revenue straight away. The wholesale deals often take a year or longer to work through before a paying customer actually starts using the network.
However, targeting both the retail and wholesale markets also means that Trustive is competing directly with its wholesale customers. That’s not much of a problem, Steefland says, because Trustive’s wholesale customers are likely to be larger companies with well-established brands that are unlikely to be threatened by the lesser known Trustive brand.
Boingo is potentially the biggest aggregator that competes directly with Trustive. Boingo’s network includes over 6,000 hotspots in Europe . Ultimately the two will race to get the most hotspots in their networks, Steefland said, but each may continue to have an advantage among local customers.
While aggregators like Boingo and Trustive continue to add new hotspots to their networks, the broader environment for hotspot roaming is still quite disjointed. There is no clear leader among the many companies trying to cobble together the biggest network, making it a confusing marketplace for end users. Some operators are going it alone, lining up roaming agreements with individual other operators, such as the deal with Telecom Italia and NTT.
Posted by nancyg at May 30, 2005 2:07 PM
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