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Root's Crowd Sourcing Launch Deemed A Success

Wed, 03/31/2010 - 8:08am
Monica Alleven

Just about a week after launching its free beta app to help map wireless network performance, Root Wireless reports its crowd sourcing program has generated 1.25 million data points.

The 1.25 million didn't come in just one week; the program started before that, but on March 22, the company opened the beta up to Android and BlackBerry smartphone users. Root is not releasing the number of beta users it has lined up - just that "thousands" of people are involved.

"We're thrilled with the results that we've had so far," says Root Wireless CEO Paul Griff. In the past week, the company has gathered data from every state in the lower 48 and even though it isn't currently targeting areas outside the United States, it has seen download activity from Canada and Mexico.

Root Wireless is using crowd sourcing to collect data because it enables the company to collect far more information in a shorter time than using its own scouts to do mapping in U.S. markets.

The data points, which include everything from signal strength to upload and download speeds and connection failures, are anonymously aggregated into a pool to be used to determine how well a carrier's network performs in a given market. For now, the company is concentrating on the big four U.S. national carriers.

Root's "light" application, which beta users download to their smartphones, runs in the background and was engineered so as not to affect the battery power or performance of the device. Because the app runs in the background, the company is designing a special version for the iPhone.

The Root Mobile application will be released for handsets running Windows Mobile operating systems before the end of the second quarter.

Root Wireless already maps 15 U.S. metropolitan markets where consumers can compare wireless services in their neighborhoods and publishes that through a deal with CNET.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Root estimates that 50,000 crowd sourcers per carrier – well distributed geographically – will be required to map wireless network performance coast-to-coast.

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