Today’s hyper-connected world is made possible by innovative Telecom companies who are able to provide reliable internet services, and cost-effective, data access solutions at densely populated indoor and outdoor locations. The rapid transition from 3G to 4G, and later, COVID led slow-down, did present difficult times for the economics of the telecom industry. Yet some companies managed to evolve with the times and cater to the uninterrupted, high speed internet demand, both indoors and outdoors. One such company is Firefly Networks that was able to reimagine their business model to thrive in the market. CIOINSIDER got in touch with Firefly’s CEO, Raj Sethia to talk about how Firefly has evolved from creating, managing, and monetizing Wi-Fi Hotspots to a provider of Multi-access Connectivity as a Shared Service (M-CASS).
From being a 3G Mobile Data Offload centric Wi-Fi Company to a provider of Multi-access Connectivity as a Shared Service (M-CASS) focused on indoor & dense outdoor connectivity solutions, how has the journey been for the company?
FireFly Networks was established in 2014 with a vision to solve the growing need for neutrally hosted, more reliable, cost-effective, data access solutions. And like any start-up with two large JV partners, we went through an initial ‘settling down’ phase. This was followed by the launch of 4G leading to unbridled usage growth. The CAPEX pressures compounded by declining revenues and the financial stress in the sector led to prolonged periods of balance-sheet stress for the incumbents and the sectors that relied on them directly or otherwise.
Then came COVID! Despite all this, we have grown at 20 percent YoY over the past Five Years. Our focus and commitment to Customer Success and Execution Excellence was amply demonstrated in FireFly becoming an ISO- 9001:2015 and ISO-45001:2018 certified company in a record time.
‘DigiAnalysys’ awarded us Best Wi-Fi Startup (Service Provider) 2017 and Best Public Wi-Fi Project 2018. In 2018, 'CIO Review' placed us on their 20 Most Promising Wi-Fi Solution Providers list, and we were awarded by 'Indus Towers' Limited with their award for Partnership Excellence – 2018 for our work on Vadodara Smart City Project. This year, Economic Times and Financial Times included FireFly Networks in their lists of ‘India’s Growth Champions 2022’ and ‘High Growth Companies Asia Pacific’ in India and Asia respectively.
We have our presence in 44 cities, 29 airports, prominent hospital chains, high profile malls, prestigious college campuses, retail chains, public buildings like Supreme Court and High Courts, high rises, corporate parks, and clubs.
Tell us about your offering, ‘M-CASS’. How is this platform serving the high demand of indoors and outdoors connectivity?
M-CASS is an infinitely scalable platform via which we deploy, manage and monetize dense indoor and outdoor network. This network can be shared by multiple stakeholders at a much lower cost and effort than otherwise seen possible. From classic public Wi-Fi to seamless MDO and everything in-between, scalable and cloud-first architecture of M-CASS can do it all. This is done by bundling analytics engine and monetization capabilities along with in-built integration with leading MNOs in India for off-load. Our venue partners, their employees, guests and machines, and the public at large get seamless, high-speed and secure digital connectivity along with sophisticated analytics, Edge capabilities and ability to serve venue specific use cases directly or through APIs. The platform is made future-proof by making it API-ready for hosting use cases emerging in the near future.
How would you describe the organizational DNA of FireFly?
We have built a vibrant, fun-filled, yet
fiercely values- based, professional and outcome focussed work culture. At the core is dedication to customer success and Execution Excellence. Our people are obsessed about the success of our customers, have a growth mind-set, are insatiably curious, think and act frugal, and like to set the bar high for themselves. Consistently high employee NPS, less talent attrition, and in-bound interest from a number of talented people in the industry speaks volumes of our culture.
With our unique and futuristic M-CASS (Multi-Access Connectivity as a Shared Service) platform approach FireFly will continue to solve for indoor and dense outdoor access for venues, communities and MNOs alike through a technology agnostic mix of licenced and unlicenced band (Wi-Fi) based solutions and value-added services
How is FireFly Networks positioned to deliver digital services in tandem with new-age technologies such as 5G, cloud computing & AR/VR?
With our unique and futuristic M-CASS (Multi-Access Connectivity as a Shared Service) platform approach FireFly will continue to solve for indoor and dense outdoor access for venues, communities and MNOs alike through a technology agnostic mix of licensed and unlicensed band (Wi-Fi) based solutions and value added-services. We are ready to serve the top 100 cities of India over next 18-24 months and are looking at expanding in two or three more segments for our Wi-Fi and DAS solutions. As a partner of choice for technology and operator neutral digital infra services in both Wi-Fi as well as 4G/5G, we see ourselves as a critical part of the success stories that our customers, governments, and venue partners will write.