iPass Takes Care of ISP Financials

By Eric Griffith

September 28, 2004

Through a deal with Cibernet, the aggregator can now offer complete financial transaction settlement to carriers that offer a Wi-Fi service.

In what the company is calling an expansion of its existing Wi-Fi Roaming Services (WRS), iPass has entered a deal with Cibernet to provide financial transaction settlement abilities to carriers getting into the Wi-Fi hotspot business.

This builds on a previously announced transaction clearing system that iPass began offering at this time last year.

"We enable transactions to take place, and with the clearinghouse, we helped with direct relations between two partners... then ask them to settle amongst each other any fees incurred," says Michael Moore, the director of business development at iPass.

"With this Cibernet partnership, we take that responsibility off of the service provider," he says. "With Cibernet financial settlement, carriers don't have to treat Wi-Fi any differently than their current processes."

In additional to settlement of financial transactions, the deal will include all the necessities leading up to that: collection of transaction data, record filtering to eliminate duplicate entries, examination of records to be sure all the right carriers and users are identified, and summarization of the records, showing the cost of services on a per-provider and per-customer basis.

"At the end of the day, the key value for ISPs is expedited time to market—instead of new processes or new record formats, they can leverage what they've got with Cibernet," says Moore. "Now they don't have to cut a check and go through the extra burden and load on the back office. They do it through existing processes."

WRS was created to help carriers and ISPs get into the Wi-Fi roaming business quickly by using third-party networks of hotspots. Redwood Shores, Calif.-based iPass operates an ever-growing virtual network (it doesn't operate any hotspot hardware itself) of 11,000 hotspot locations in its Global Broadband Roaming (GBR) footprint.

Cibernet, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., works with over 300 carriers of cellular networks around the world, including T-Mobile, Verizon and SprintPCS.

SprintPCS, for example, uses some of their own hotspots as well as some iPass partner locations for their Wi-Fi roaming background, Moore says. "They probably have half a dozen roaming relationships," he says. "Now, instead of getting reporting from iPass and determining what checks need to be cut, they could run this through Cibernet and have it move funds electronically." (He notes that this is just an example of what could happen -- Sprint has not signed up for the service at press time.)

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