LavaNet enters WiFi partnership with Skywave
LavaNet Inc., a local Internet service provider, is partnering with Skywave Broadband Inc., a provider of wireless broadband service, in a venture that executives say will give LavaNet customers greater ability to link to the Internet when they leave home.
The deal also will allow some LavaNet business customers to become official Skywave "hotspots," locations where Skywave and LavaNet customers can link to the Internet using Skywave's network.
The announcement comes as companies with a variety of business models are jockeying for position in Honolulu's wireless Internet market.
Although many businesses, such as shopping malls and retailers, offer free WiFi Internet access to customers as a perk, other businesses charge people for access, typically by partnering with a service that requires people to pay for a subscription or to buy WiFi access in increments of time. Starbucks Corp.'s arrangement with T-Mobile USA Inc. is an example of such a model.
Skywave has a network of 32 hotspots on Oahu; although the company provides free access to the City and County of Honolulu's Web site, it charges people for general Internet access. Primarily a provider of Internet services, LavaNet also offers network consulting, Web design and other services.
The partnership gives Skywave access to LavaNet's approximately 10,000 customers, many of whom would naturally want to use Skywave's service, said Matt Freeman, business manager for LavaNet. For its part, Freeman said, LavaNet gets access to Skywave's equipment and network, which would be expensive for LavaNet to build from scratch.
According to the deal, LavaNet customers will receive a six-week free trial of Skywave access; after that trial, LavaNet customers can receive Skywave access at a discount.
Some business owners who use LavaNet as an Internet provider will be able to become hotspots for Skywave's network. Under this arrangement, selected businesses will receive free equipment needed to set up the Skywave site, said Josh Beil, Skywave's president.
Although it is relatively inexpensive to set up a simple WiFi hotspot, it is considerably more complicated to set up one that requires people to pay to access. Beil said participating businesses can benefit by being able to charge customers for one-hour passes to Skywave's network, or by being able to give away passes as a premium to customers.
Businesses also can benefit from being part of Skywave's network of hotspots, Beil said.