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Boise company hopes to help make home Wi-Fi work better

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MetaGeek’s website lays it out in big bold letters, right at the top.

“It’s not a question of if your WiFi environment is going to change, but when.”

For many people, that Wi-Fi environment didn’t just change — their entire environment changed. From an office with a corporate IT staff keeping an eye on the wireless Internet, to a home office where you, your spouse or maybe an enterprising teen keep the modem lights blinking.

Ryan Woodings launched MetaGeek in 2006 in Boise. Now, he’s tinkering around with a product that can help make diagnosing problems on the home network easier.

A 2020 pivot

“When we did planning for 2020, we had already decided we wanted to focus more on the home wi-fi space,” Woodings said. “Before that we were more focused on bigger businesses like hospitals and universities – but we were pushing into smaller businesses,:

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But like most businesses’ plans for 2020 – adaptation was the name of the game.

“All of a sudden home Wi-Fi is essential.”

Essential – and not just to get your fix of reruns of Jim & Pam’s romance on The Office.

“We went from using Netflix and Spotify, and if it works, great. Now, if it doesn’t work, it’s really painful.”

From an occasional stream and light web browsing, to one parent on Zoom, and a few students participating in remote schooling.

Woodings realized the company’s traditional product, inSSIDer, wasn’t always the right fit for trying to diagnose and fix problems with home Wi-Fi.

New tool for home users

“inSSIDer is too complicated with too many tables. It wasn’t really helping people who don’t understand Wi-Fi figure out what to do. So we built inSSIDer Agent – it’s small and lightweight. We got rid of the tables and charts and just give people essential information.”

The idea is to use the tool to diagnose the Wi-Fi environment, then give users instructions on how to make the connection better.

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“If you are going along and using Zoom, and it’s stopping and cutting out, getting some basic information is really helpful,” Woodings said. “We are trying to do a lot more and help users step through the issue and help them resolve it.”

Final Fantasy? Or a Zoom with Bill Lumbergh.

He gives a real-world example that might hit close to… well… home.

“If you had inSSIDer Agent running on your computer and your wife’s computer, you could detect that the high school son is gaming all the time. If you have an idea of what that bandwidth is and that he’s sucking it up all the time – you can figure out how to throttle his bandwidth and speed things up for others.”

The new tool is in the experimentation phase. Woodings and his team are also working to figure out the best business model for the new project.

“Is this something people will engage with and there’s a good market for,” Woodings asked. “We are trying to figure out the model. Is it a subscription? Or do you pay for the tool for so much time? Or is it a corporate model? If there’s a way to provide IT departments to use this tool – they could help their workers with some of these remote challenges.”

You can learn more about the tool, and download the early test here.

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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