Using the Aggregators to Grow

By Eric Griffith

November 12, 2003

Managed service provider Infonet is expanding its worldwide mobile access footprint for its customers by integrating the virtual hotspot networks run by Boingo and GRIC.

Infonet Services Corporation's director of marketing for Mobility Services, Greg Hayes, describes his company as a "global managed service provider that operates services for multi-national corporations." The service they offer such corporations: remote access and mobility for employees.

For years the company has had a dial-up solutions they provided called DialXpress, but they've noticed the not-so-subtle shift to wireless for on the go workers and are evolving their service offering and its brand. Now called MobileXpress, Infonet's service goes beyond dial-up to offer both wired broadband and hotspot access. But, Infonet doesn't operate their own Wi-Fi networks, so it had to piggy back on someone else. In this case, it was the aggregators to the rescue.

Early in October, Infonet announced a commercial partnership with Boingo Wireless , where it is incorporating the Boingo footprint of sites into the MobileXpress package. Infonet also made a minority investment in Boingo.

Boingo currently boasts 5000 sites in its virtual network of hotspots.

Infonet is, as Hayes puts it, "taking the approach of multiple partnerships. We believe that different aggregators bring different specializations to the party. It's the reality of early market times."

This week the company announced its second such deal, with GRIC Communications . GRIC and Infonet have actually been working together for some time, as Infonet's DialXpress took advantage of the many GRIC dial-up points of presence. (MobileXpress will continue to support various forms of connection, from dial-up to Wi-Fi). GRIC's TierOne Network has about 2500 hotspot locations and 500 Ethernet-based hotel locations, with more being added such as STSN's network.

Lumin Yen, director of product management for Wi-Fi and Broadband Access at GRIC says his company could reach as many as 6000 new sites by the end of the year based on currently signed provider agreements.

Users of Infonet's MobileXpress will be able to access GRIC and Boingo locations seamlessly, with the same usernames, passwords and authentication tokens they'd use in other locations.

"That's really what we see as the key to making this --and Wi-Fi in particular -- a commercially viable alternative," says Hayes. "[Users] need software and expertise that will mask authentication." MobileXpress will not become globally available until early next year.

Wi-Fi Planet Conference Want to meet an aggregator? Join us at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo, December 2 - 5, 2003 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. iPass and GRIC will be among the 100 exhibitors on the show floor.



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