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Joiku gets profit joys from unlimited mobile data

Operators will take convincing, though

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Hotspot developer Joiku is reaping some uncommon rewards. Its research shows almost a third of users upgraded to an unlimited data plan after buying its hotspot software, supporting the argument that such services can indeed make money for operators.

JoikuSpot turns a Symbian S60 phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing nearby devices equipped with Wi-Fi to share the phone's 3G data connection without needing cables or Bluetooth pairing. Such software has been frowned upon by network operators who are still getting comfortable with unlimited data plans, and don't want to see themselves struggling to make money like the fixed-line ISPs.

But most mobile users are still paying by the byte, and of 600 JoikuSpot users polled by the company 30 per cent (180) had upgraded to an "unlimited" data tariff after starting to use Joiku. This should earn money for the operator as long as those users aren't overloading the network, and the company reports that the average Joiku user only tots up 72MB a month - well below the "fair use" limitations put on data traffic.

Joiku knows exactly how much data is flowing as the traffic volume is recorded on the company's servers - which should be a concern when the premium version of application only costs €15 for a lifetime licence with the basic version (web only) is free. Running those servers without any recurring income is a shaky business model, constantly requiring new sales to pay for supporting existing users, and Joiku would much prefer to do a deal with network operators interested in increasing sales of unlimited tariffs: which explains the release of the figures.

Unfortunately for Joiku, network operators are much more interested in selling services and content than bandwidth. And when they are selling bandwidth they'd like it to remain separate from their telephony operations, through USB dongles and the like, where it can be more easily controlled. Joiku reckons its software can be equally managed, but will likely face an uphill battle to get operators signed on. ®

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