iPass Heads North

By Eric Griffith

July 23, 2002

FatPort's network of hotspots in western Canada will soon be part of the iPass Global Broadband Roaming service. Once they pass the test.

FatPort Corporation is the latest hotspot provider to join the iPass Global Broadband Roaming (GBR) service.

iPass, headquartered in Redwood Shores, CA, will make sure all of FatPort's hotspots are ready for enterprise usage by making them work with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and other security systems for authentication and policy management.

FatPort provides high-speed wireless Internet access in western Canada, mostly near its headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, but is quickly expanding. FatPort's "FatZone" hotspots will total 16 points in Vancouver by the end of this week, plus one at the Whistler Ski Resort north of the city, with more hotspots to come in Calgary and elsewhere soon.

According to FatPort's CEO Sean O'Mahony, "Our focus is all Western Canada; our initial launch just covered our home base."

iPass currently has over 400 hotspot locations worldwide, including many in major airports, plus it provides GBR service to over 100,000 wireline connections in several hotels.

FatPort's current "FatZones" will not be added to the iPass "phonebook" instantly, however.

According to John Sidline, Corporate Communications Advisor at iPass, before they can become part of the GBR network, "all these new spots have to go through testing to work with VPNs and personal firewalls and other enterprise mandated systems."

Both iPass and FatPort are members of the Pass-One alliance of businesses hoping to establish a global wireless roaming standard. iPass recently announced the free release of its "generic interface specification" (GIS) that will work with "smart" clients to log users into the Internet via any wireless connection. iPass hopes its efforts to promote GIS will make it a de facto WLAN roaming standard. Sidline says many major companies are already building GIS into their hardware.

"We had 50 companies, both hardware and network providers, downloading the GIS specification in the first day it was available," says Sidline. "That hopefully will aid in the adoption." Vendors who architect products using GIS will pass the tests from iPass without problem, he says.

FatPort just announced sales of FatPoint wireless gateway deployment products to help push hotspot adoption in Canada and the United States. The FatPoint line will soon come equipped with iPass software, ready to support GIS, according to O'Mahony.

Once testing is complete on the FatPort hotspots, iPass will integrate them into GBR via its iPassConnect mobile access client. Regarding the client, Sidline says, "We'll activate GIS in the next release of our client, and that will bring online a whole new mess of hotspots."

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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