Boingo and Pronto Team-Up

By Eric Griffith

September 23, 2002

Pronto Networks has inked a deal to provide service to Boingo users at all Pronto-powered hotspots, now and in the future, and is offering hardware to mid-market ISPs looking to start wireless nodes.

Emeryville, CA-based Pronto Networks, maker of the Pronto Hotspot Networking System, will put support for the Boingo Wireless network on all its hardware, letting Boingo users surf at any hotspot powered by Pronto.

As part of this deal, all Pronto hotspot venues become Boingo members automatically.

Pronto expects deployment of over 400 new public hotspots in the next year with its existing partners, including Deep Blue Wireless, AccessAnyPlace, boating-WISP iDockUSA and others.

Boingo will also be promoting Pronto's managed hotspot services via their Web site with a "WISP-in-a-Box," for $799.

"WISP-In-A-Box is slightly different than the "Hot Spot In A Box," says Christian Gunning, Director, Product Management at Boingo, referring to the $895.99 Colubris CN3000 hardware Boingo resells to get hotspot customers started. "Pronto's... physical device is less expensive... [and] a portion of the connect fees pay them for running the back end authentication/billing systems. Their boxes give you more control over the branded service being provided."

Pronto recently signed roaming agreements with iPass and GRIC Communications.

In a related announcement, Pronto has also started to ship a non-managed version of its Hotspot Networking System to mid-sized ISPs for creation of as few as 10 wireless hotspots at a time. This version lets the ISP take control, leaving middleman Pronto out of the picture if desired.

The Hotspot Networking System is usually a hardware/software/back-office combo that venue owners can plug into any broadband connection to instantly start serving Wi-Fi-based Internet access to customers. For mid-level ISPs, the system includes of the Pronto OSS Server software to be installed at the WISP's network operations center for controlling all billing, roaming, and authentication, and ten Hotspot Controller access point/gateways for public access sites.

WISPs not interested in installing the software can still let Pronto run the OSS for them for a 25% share of end-user fees.

With 10 controllers, the Hotspot Networking System will cost $7990; additional controllers are $799 each, but volume discounts are available.

Gunning noted that the choices for hotspot operators from Pronto, Boingo, and others are growing, but "entrepreneurs should really look at all available solutions, to determine which is best for them. Factors to consider: the level of involvement the entrepreneur is interested in, how much control they want over the branding on the local splash page, the economics of their business model, etc."

Eric Griffith is managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

Listen to Boingo CEO (and Earthlink founder) Sky Dayton as he delivers the keynote address at this year's 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, Fall 2002, December 3 to 5 in Santa Clara, CA.

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