iPass and Cometa in Partnership

By Eric Griffith

March 03, 2003

In its first announced partnership deal, the wholesale corporate broadband wireless Internet services from start-up Cometa will be launched as part of the already established iPass virtual network.

Since launching just over three months ago, Cometa Networks, a joint creation of AT&T, Intel and IBM along with investment partners, has stayed on top of the radar and in the headlines. In that time, the company hasn't launched a working hotspot or announced a single customer or venue location. Today's the first: Cometa says when it launches the first phase of its network -- which isn't expected to go live in major metropolitan areas until the final quarter of 2003 -- its hotspots will be part of the iPass Global Broadband Roaming (GBR) service for enterprise users.

iPass of Redwood Shores, CA, allows access to the GBR service via its iPassConnect smart client software to its corporate customers. The network is a mix of both wired and wireless locations around the globe. This partnership is expected to expand the wireless portion of the network by hundreds of venues in the US, Europe and Asia. In previous reports, Cometa has said it would launch 20,000 hotspots by the end of 2004.

Hotspots run by Cometa will use equipment supporting the Generic Interface Specification (GIS), which iPass wants to see as an industry-standard way for a smart client to connect with any number of access gateways. Jon Russo, vice president of marketing at iPass says, "whichever technology they [Cometa] choose, it will adhere to GIS so locations are 'Enterprise Ready'."

That phrase refers to iPass's quality assessment program to certify anyone who'd like to be part of their virtual network.

Russo says this partnership "gives us the capability to reach out wirelessly to new customers we couldn't get before in our large footprint."

Focus on enterprise customers is the goal for both companies. Cometa will be targeting mobile workers in cities, at least to start, in "highly business traveled venues" like airports. But Russo says he expects Cometa to do trials everything from fast food restaurants to even just parking lots.

Other hotspot providers that are part of the iPass GBR service include FatPort, MegaBeam, Wayport, StayOnline, and others.

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