Managed Wifi provider, Tomizone, is riding high on the completion of its pilot with Skype Wifi, which provided free Wifi connectivity across 15 sites in Australia and New Zealand.

According to Steve Simms, CEO of Tomizone, the results from the pilot exceeded expectations all around.

"We kicked it off in mid-February and finished it at the close of June. We are currently analysing the results with Skype and Microsoft. We would have been happy if we had doubled the numbers on the trial hotspots. We have far exceeded that. We would have been happy if a small percentage of them downloaded the Skype Wifi app, and we have exceed that. So obviously the acceptance of the brand, of Skype and Tomizone, to run a free wifi service exists," says Simms.

Launch of a full service though is dependent on several factors and Tomizone is currently working with Skype to look into the possibility of partnership.

"It is more if we launch it, rather than when. Skype is just one potential partner. There are many other partners out there that want to look at this software platform we have got and how it works," says Simms.

The company, which is currently providing managed services to customers in over 108 countries, is also on an aggressive growth path that will see it double its staff strength in the next 18 months, and tap into global capital to back it up. It is also looking to confirm a global distributor by the end of the year.

"Our teams are going to grow considerably. We have essentially got our plan very well mapped out for the next 18 months and where we are going to go with the team sizing. We will be basing people under centres of excellence where our global distributor partner are going to be and our partner customers are going to be, and they would be doing mostly sales, provisioning and support.

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"NZ will maintain itself as our R&D hub and product centre of excellence. We will probably be also looking at replicating some of that stuff up in the US, as well. But primarily all of our main stuff will come out of here," he says

"We are currently doing some funding rounds out of Australia. From there we will be looking at other offshore markets to fund us. Our next round is likely to be completed by the end of October this year," Simms adds.

Calling NZ the Silicon Valley of the South Pacific, Simms believes that ICT firms in the country are attracting a lot more capital and the next few years will see more money flowing in from offshore, especially Australia.

Speaking to Computerworld NZ Simms elaborated on the evolution of Wifi connectivity in the country, and the prospect of ubiquitous Wifi provision outside the home and work place.

"In this market what we have been told by the telcos is that a lot of people are on prepaid plans. And they are on low volume 3G, 4G plans. These people look for free Wifi. They barely use their plans. Free Wifi is their lifeblood outside of their home and work. That is why that tactic can be so successful. NZ is waking up to this now and we are seeing a number of our customers convert to those supported free Wifi scenarios

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"At the moment we are seeing accommodation is going through a very good change. Traditionally where they used to charge for Wifi, many of them are moving as far out as possible to provide free quality Wifi. Accommodation providers have always provided free hot water, free lights, free bed as long as you pay for the room. Therefore, other amenities like free TV and free internet should also be included in the amenities. So those are the things that they are grappling with as an industry," says Simms.

He warns that, as firms move towards providing Wifi, they should not think before going for the simple access point with unlimited broadband option, which is the simplest way to providing Wifi.

"The problem with just sticking up an access point and keeping that on unlimited plan is that what you will have is two points of vulnerabilities. The first point is the interception stuff -- the cyber security element -- and making sure users are downloading something dodgy. That is circumnavigated by using systems like Tomizone that does all the content filtering and makes sure that you can't do some things.

"The management in the background is the second part of that story. Because once I have got my free Wifi connection open to my unlimited plan, what happens when I have 50 people walk in through the door? Using a managed platform gives more quality of service operation or priority of service makes the experience better for the user," says Simms.

"That's what I think we will see here in NZ. People are catching on to the fact that it is better to offer some quality Wifi and create a good, quality experience between the customer and them. It is a bit of an evolution and we are at that point now in New Zealand," he adds.

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