Airpath 'Roam'ances Carriers

By Ed Sutherland

October 01, 2004

The hotspot management company is offering a vendor-neutral method of getting carriers into the Wi-Fi space, which lets end users roam where they want to.

Airpath Wireless has unveiled InterRoam, a service promising to simplify roaming between Wi-Fi networks. The Waltham, Mass.-based hotspot management company sees InterRoam offering carriers freedom from Wi-Fi aggregators while allowing wireless users to move throughout the globe with only one login method.

"Think of it as the cellular network," says Laura Mellow, Airpath's vice president of marketing and product management. InterRoam provides carriers with a provider-neutral platform where they can identify and manage roaming agreements while also setting prices based on venue or hotspot level.

"InterRoam provides the framework to make Wi-Fi roaming a delight for the user and a reliable revenue source for the provider," says Todd Myers, CEO of Airpath.

For customers of Wi-Fi hotspots, InterRoam provides a single connection. For carriers, Airpath's service means less work. "They plug-in one time," says Mellow.

"Airpath built InterRoam as a 'provider neutral' solution to give network and service providers complete control over their Wi-Fi roaming relationships and pricing," according to a company statement.

Although unwilling to name customers, Mellow indicates Airpath is finalizing agreements with at least two U.S. carriers, along with three or four carriers in the U.K, Brazil and elsewhere.

"Carriers need a reliable and consistent platform to track customers coming in and out of their Wi-Fi network and also to empower their own customers to use other Wi-Fi networks that are outside their home provider's territory," said Myers.

"Creating an infrastructure for roaming agreements between providers can be a costly and time-consuming process," according to a prepared statement. With InterRoam, "carriers and providers will be able to shorten their time to market, while providing a seamless footprint to their end users."

Acting like a pipeline for Wi-Fi users, InterRoam brings together service providers — those with a Wi-Fi hotspot that want a bigger footprint — and network providers that sell access. The single interconnection allows carriers and consumers to "plug in one time," says Mellow.

"Engineering resources are not required to add new roaming partners," according to the statement.

Carriers using InterRoam will see an online list of Wi-Fi providers and will be able to create roaming agreements and pricing levels, says Mellow. Although Airpath operates its own Airpath Provider Alliance network of hotspots, there is no requirement to sign a roaming agreement with the company, according to Mellow.

Using InterRoam, "carriers and service providers can offer Wi-Fi services to their customers today, whether they have their own hotspot network or not," according to Airpath. Mellow says carriers without a hotspot network can use InterRoam to connect their users with existing Wi-Fi hotspots.

Airpath is positioning InterRoam as an alternative to the current raft of Wi-Fi hotspot aggregators.

"Most providers have had to rely on an aggregator to determine the access and set the prices based on a static rate for an entire network," according to Airpath.

Using InterRoam, carriers will be able to establish pricing on a per-venue or per-hotspot basis. For instance, carriers can set a different price for using a Wi-Fi hotspot based at an airport than for connecting at a coffee shop, says Mellow.

Originally published on .

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