Wi-Fi operator offers direct subscription service

14 Apr 2004

Bitbuzz, a homegrown provider of Wi-Fi hotspot services with the second highest number of live hotspots in the country, has launched its own direct monthly subscription model for Irish business users that undercuts the average monthly rate by almost 50pc.

A recent survey by the company demonstrated that over 80pc of Bitbuzz’s network is used for business purposes and with this in mind the company has just finalised its own direct monthly subscription model for Irish business users that will be available within two months. The company has also added an SMS payments system to facilitate users paying for Wi-Fi access using their mobile phone.

The company is charging business users a monthly fee of €69.95 for unlimited use of its hotspots, compared with €120 per month offered by Esat BT.

Bitbuzz currently operates 22 Wi-Fi hotspots in the Irish market, with a planned rollout of over 200 in the next two to three years. Recent additions to the Bitbuzz network include the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Cocoon, Brown’s Barn, Renard’s Cafe Bar, Cafe en Seine and the Hibernian Hotel.

In terms of live public Wi-Fi hotspots, the company is second only to Eircom which has 33 live public hotspots and is followed by O2 with 20 hotspots and Esat BT with 15 public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Bitbuzz operations director Alex French told siliconrepublic.com: “We believe we are the first reasonably priced monthly subscription public wireless hotspot service for business people. We base the service on what we perceive is a genuine business need. Most business people who would use public Wi-Fi hotspots say they would use the service if it were more reasonably priced. Many of these people would be seasoned wireless workers who burn up huge bills in terms of using GPRS services, that range from bills of a couple of hundred euros to one case of €2,000 per month.

“We are trying to give people as wide a range of billing options as possible. It reminds me of the early days of the internet when internet service providers were dabbling with all kinds of billing options ranging from by the hour to amounts per bytes downloaded. The proof was that it was not until people could actually control the costs of usage that the internet actually took off,” French explained. “New research from Pyramid Research reckons that by 2007 Wi-Fi will outpace users of 2G and 3G data services. It also says that all laptops shipped next year will be Wi-Fi enabled.”

French added that the company is on target for 200 hotspots around Ireland within two years, with a new batch of hotspots set for rollout in Sligo, Waterford, Galway as well as along the main transport routes of Ireland.

Last month, Bitbuzz signed Ireland’s first international roaming deal with Trustive, one of Europe’s largest hotspot aggregators. The agreement will connect Irish Wi-Fi users to the Trustive network of over 2,400 hotspots worldwide. French told siliconrepublic.com that Irish users will be able to use the international network from Q2 onwards.

By John Kennedy

Pictured is Shane Deasy, managing director of Bitbuzz, with Audrey Woots from photography agency Photoline, who will use Bitbuzz’s subscription service for sending photographs wirelessly.