RemotePipes Expands Footprint

By Eric Griffith

January 13, 2005

The relatively new hotspot aggregator is launching deals that will give it 10,000 hotspots immediately, with more on the way.

RemotePipes of Mendota Heights, Minn., is quickly moving from Wi-Fi newcomer to one of the more serious aggregators of hotspots around. The company today is announcing a roaming deal with Switzerland-based WeRoam which will give RemotePipes customers access to more than double the hotspots it had before.

The company started off in 2000 providing dial-up service for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) with a staff of mobile workers. Last year, the company launched its IP Roamer service to add Wi-Fi to the mix. Since then, it has been directly targeting companies like large broadband cable and DSL operators that might want to resell co-branded IP Roamer access to customers that need to go on the road.

RemotePipes also has a direct agreement to roam on the airport-based hotspots run by Concourse Communications, which recently won contracts to unwire Chicago's O'Hare and Midway International Airports.

The deal with WeRoam and Concourse moves RemotePipes from a footprint of 3,000 hotspots to over 10,000. Because WeRoam has roaming agreements with major WISPs like Wayport, now all the same Wayport locations will be available to IP Roamer customers. Wayport is now the largest Wi-Fi hotspot provider in the United States, recently passing T-Mobile Hotspot.

Early partners with RemotePipes include FatPort and Airpath.

"The beauty of being a global aggregator is that every time we do these deals, it's not standing still," says RemotePipes company CEO Doug Bonestroo. "They [our partners] are growing their networks, too." He expects to reach 20,000 hotspots in the company footprint by the end of the first quarter of this year.

He compares the company to hotspot aggregators like iPass and GoRemote, which both focus more on providing remote access service to Fortune 2,000 companies with mobile users. While RemotePipes has some customers in that area, he thinks those that want face-to-face time with a representative will go with a company like iPass. "Some people like when I take them to lunch, but 95% of our customers I've never met," says Bonestroo about how his SMB customers would prefer to just order connectivity without the hassle of sales reps.

And that's a good thing, since RemotePipes only has 10 full time employees: four are in administration, and the rest are engineers. Account mangers for incoming sales are being added. What's more, IP Roamer customers like cable broadband provider Charter Communications will be sending their own sales force out to stump for the service, which benefits RemotePipes in the long run.

Deals will continue apace, says Bonestroo, and he says he hopes to work with T-Mobile's 5,000+ hotspots across the world soon. "We know T-Mobile wants the cable companies. We compete against them for those accounts," he says. "It's a good indication they'd like our distribution."

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