ICOA Buys RV Park Hotspot Provider

By Eric Griffith

July 14, 2005

The acquisition of LinkSpot puts the company at over 1,200 hotspots in varied locations, from the ocean to the mountains to the mall.

ICOA Corp. continues building out its little Wi-Fi empire. This week, the company announced its sixth acquisition, this time of LinkSpot Networks, a provider of Wi-Fi services at 80 recreational vehicle (RV) parks and campgrounds around the United States.

John Balbach, Vice President of Corporate Development at ICOA, says this puts the company at over 1,200 hotspots across 45 states. The bulk of this growth happened just last year, when ICOA went from a few airports to 900 owned or managed hotspots.

Other hotspot providers owned by ICOA include QGo, which does café hotspots; iDockUSA, with service at marinas and ports; Airport Network Solutions (the name speaks for itself); and Wise Technologies, with hotspots in a number of areas, including multi-dwelling units (MDUs). The company also owns AuthDirect, which provides OSS back-end services for several hotspot providers.

The entire ICOA hotspot footprint is in the process of moving to AuthDirect's TollBooth system, giving a subscriber using iDockUSA locations access to those at ICOA-run airports as well, for example. "Today, the payments are separate on all," says Balbach, "but it'll shortly be seamless. We built the network through acquisition, but we're unifying under a single platform."

ICOA's latest buy, LinkSpot, has grown from 30 locations in the summer of 2003 to 80 locations in 26 states today. Those locations encompass 20,000 individual campgrounds. That's only a drop in the bucket, though, as the company estimates the total market of RV/campgrounds includes over 2 million locations that are potential customers for wireless connections.

The former CEO of LinkSpot, Alan Kobran, will move to ICOA to become Vice President of Outdoor Hospitality and Recreation. He'll work on consolidating all of ICOA's recreational-related locations.

Balbach says the LinkSpot buy makes sense considering their success with iDockUSA. "If you look at RV parks and marinas, they're highly complementary," he says. "They operate in similar ways in terms of user base, habits and behaviors."

The LinkSpot deal was done for stock, so all LinkSpot share holders become ICOA shareholders.

While ICOA is already a roaming partner with hotspot aggregators like Boingo Wireless and iPass, Balbach says the company was waiting to pass the 1,000 locations mark to have more serious conversations with other network providers for roaming deals. "It's an open architecture," he says. "Our business model isn't owning the customer. We build and manage and maintain networks, and want to make them available to others."

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