Successful Testing of Hyperlocal Connectivity in Seattle


When is a 3-hour airport stopover a good thing? No, it turns out the answer is not “NEVER!” as one would expect. Any other guesses? How about when you are testing a hyperlocal app that needs a large-scale public WiFi deployment for testing?

I have spent a lot of time in conference halls, hotels, and airports over the past week, but there was something kind of special about the 3 hour stopover I just had at SeaTac International, just outside of Seattle, Washington.

Saju and I were on our way home from a few Bay Area meetings and a dinner with the Mobile Monday chapter for Silicon Valley, sponsored by the very nice people at Telefonica (and no… that is not sucking up in the hopes of a future partnership, they really are nice). And while the meetings and dinner were great, the highlight had to be the time spent waiting for the connecting flight home.

You see, it was on this stopover that I saw shoulder-drooping stress float out of Saju as though his entire body was being carried aloft by a bunch of helium-filled balloons. We have piled a lot onto his shoulders these last few months, and while he has been more than up to the challenge, it is always brings me joy when I see someone break out in a mile-wide smile.

The day before, we had just received a new build of YO! on our way down to San Fran as well as a few testing apps that we use to validate our connectivity efforts. And today, while Saju waited with our bags for our connecting flight, I strolled across the airport, pinging back messages and observations as I traversed from one side of the airport to the other… yes… messages that were being sent over WiFi, but they did not use the Internet. And thus, there was no requirement for network connectivity to the outside world.

I started at Gate C16 where we were scheduled to fly home a few hours later.

As I walked, I messaged my journey to Saju…

Me: “Testing”

Saju: “It works.”

Me: “Still Testing”

Saju “Still works”

Me: “Wolfgang Pucks”

Saju: “Keep going”

Me: “Beecher’s Mac & Cheese”

Saju: “Heavy, but good.”

Me: “Food Court.”

Saju: “Hungry?”

Me: “Fish ‘n Chips?”

Saju: “No thanks.”

Me: “Pizza?”

Saju: “Better.”

Me: “Wine?”

Saju: “Much better.”

And on it went… I passed by airport security, I passed by a guitar player singing a somewhat melancholy song, I passed some interesting public art, and this being Seattle… I passed a lot of Starbucks. By the end of my journey, our WiFi-only conversation had me reach near the far end of Terminal A, clear on the other side of the airport.

I sent Saju one final note before I turned around. It simply read, “Awesomeness.”

Now some of you may be thinking what’s the big deal, I can message and use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or SMS in most airports. Yes, you can. And each of those relies on either OTT transmission (over the top) or creates unnecessary network bandwidth congestion. If this doesn’t cost the consumer, it costs the provider. What we had managed to achieve was hyperlocal communication along and across the network’s edge at much higher speeds than anything out there today. The implications of this include cost savings, accessibility where connectivity is not possible, security, and so much more.

We still have lots of testing to do as different environments perform… well … differently, but we are getting closer. Those 3 hours spent in Seattle will allow me to sleep tonight.

Oh… and for those curious, we had Beecher’s world famous Mac & Cheese for lunch. (Photo Credit: Cropped pic from Twitter/JPellgen)