Deployment Partners Feel Secure

By Eric Griffith

August 15, 2002

For Bay Area WISP Deep Blue Wireless, security is seen as key in the expansion of its hotspot network, so it's partnering with Pronto to give hotspot users VPN protection.

Deep Blue Wireless, a San Francisco-based wireless Internet service provider (WISP) with about 20 locations in the Bay Area, has partnered with Pronto Networks to use the company's plug-and-play hotspot controller hardware as the basis for building out their network footprint.

Deep Blue was an original project "Jumpstart" partner with hereUare, a company that recently put itself up for sale (there's still no word on hereUare selling or not, but its services are still up). Sensing hereUare's troubles earlier this year, Deep Blue's CEO Alan Gale began what he calls "a comprehensive analysis [of every company] under the sun that's an aggregator, enabler or straight wireless ISP."

His decision to use Pronto's products for build out was based on protecting his customers.

"There's a lot of commonality in the revenue sharing," says Gale, "[but] a lack of consistent security on any public Wi-Fi."

Pronto's hotspot hardware provides a IPSec-based virtual private network (VPN) security solution from the end-user to the Pronto access control device on a property. Unlike a typical corporate VPN tunnel which goes from the user all the way to the enterprise server, Pronto's VPN only covers the wireless connection while using the public hotspot.

Gale is also happy with the ease of setup for users. A small 200k file can be installed that takes care of the IPSec setup, or Windows 2000 and XP users can use the built in IPSec utility in the operating system if they're inclined.

"We're excited about the Pronto device," says Gale. "I looked at everyone out there, and there's no secure solution for the public beyond this product."

Pronto hotspot products also offer bandwidth management so different tiers of users can get different connection speeds, upgradeability to 802.11a and 11g, monitoring tools and a "walled garden" feature that lets users access certain Web pages related to the business location they're in without having to pay for access, thus allowing business to advertise their wares up front.

Deep Blue Wireless currently has about 20 locations with about 20 more on the way, focusing on high-end business travelers in hotels, airports and convention centers. As part of this agreement, Deep Blue will use "hundreds" of Pronto Hotspot Controllers for future deployments. The company is currently offering location owners setup for $250 with ongoing revenue sharing.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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