Swedish startup Anyfi Networks has come out of stealth mode and announced Anyfi.net, a new Wi-Fi roaming solution. The solution allows Internet service providers (ISP) offer consumers the same automatic Wi-Fi user experience both at home and on the go – users can automatically and securely always connect to the same Wi-Fi access point.
The solution is based on a custom piece of software ISP can install (automatically over-the-air in most cases) into their Wi-Fi hotspot devices, to make the hotspots function as a radio gateway (or access point). The access points direct the raw Wi-Fi radio traffic securely over the Internet to a server in the cloud.
This way, when connecting to a hotspot where Anyfi.net software is installed, users will always be virtually in their home network, without having to login to any new local Wi-Fi network (no passwords are asked after the very first login to the home network). This means the users will also have a fully secured connection, even if the hotspot itself would be untrusted or even in an attacker’s control. The solution is also very simple for the end users, as it does not require installation of any new software to the consumers’ devices, thus working on any Wi-Fi client device (like smartphone) out-of-the-box. Check out the video below for more info.
“The trick is combining Wi-Fi with IP, Internet Protocol, to break the tie between logical network and physical infrastructure, much in the same way as Voice over IP separates your phone service from the physical line. You can think of it as Wi-Fi over IP.”
Björn Smedman, CEO of Anyfi Networks, told ArcticStartup that the Anyfi team has worked on the concept since 2006, piloting it last year with a local Malmo, Sweden based operator Myfi.net. The firm is now in talks with international operators, to get the first reference customers.
The company has been funded through the founders’ consulting practice, and a few angel investors who have also become advisors to the startup. Smedman also mentions that the firm is likely looking for more funding to accelerate the growth as soon as they nail the first customers.
According to Anyfi, only about 1-2% of residential broadband capacity is actually used. At the same time the mobile telecom networks are experiencing excruciating performance stretch due to the increased use of data-intensive devices like the iPhone. Anyfi’s solution practically allows using the residential broadbands’ idle capacity to offload stress to mobile networks without any negative impact to the owner of the residential hotspot.
Anyfi’s promotional video explaining the concept from the end user perspective:
Anyfi describes that a fixed-line operator having a high density of broadband subscribers in certain urban areas could actually become mobile operators overnight, just by upgrading the modem software remotely, transforming the infrastructure into a radio access network – kind of turning Wi-Fi into full-blown 4G technology. Smaller operators could on also join together to collectively provide mobile Internet access, with worldwide roaming.
Coupled with the automatic security and easy roaming, invisible to the end users, Anyfi.net could be a disruptive concept to the wireless telecom industry.