By Ed Sutherland
October 12, 2004
The company’s new roaming program will aggregate 4,000 venues worldwide which are run by a variety of different hotspot operators.
Wi-Fi hotspot interconnection developer Nomadix claims a new roaming program gives it the world’s largest public access footprint. Dubbed NIS Roaming, the service aggregates more than 4,000 venues operated by carriers, wireless ISPs and service providers.
“We see a hole in the public access market,” says Nomadix CEO Kurt Bauer. “Networks are starting to grow, because of Intel and others, and people are asking, ‘we’re unwired, now what do I do?'”
Bauer calls the current state of Wi-Fi networks “pretty challenging.” “We had an opportunity to fuse this mosaic of fragmented roaming,” he says.
Roaming is the first part of NIS, or Nomadix Interconnect Services. The Westlake Village, Calif.-based company announced that NIS will also support VoIP and location-aware advertising.
Sprint, RoomLinX and PicoPoint were among the more than half-dozen roaming partners announced Monday.
For example, Sprint will use NIS Roaming to connect users of its Wi-Fi hotspots with the new Nomadix network. Quest and MCI will also partner with Nomadix, Bauer says.
“We look forward to driving the evolution of the public access market into the future, which today is at a critical and strategic juncture,” Bauer says.
“The market is currently being driven by several verticals that view public access as an essential part of doing business,” says Amy Cravens, senior analyst for In-Stat/MDR.
Nomadix says it will aggregate both the users and the more than 20,000 devices running its Nomadix Service engine, as well as lower the costs for mobile operators by providing carrier class service levels, settlement and billing from Convergys.
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NIS Roaming gives mobile or wireline operators “the ability to create a large high-availability footprint without the capital outlay to build it,” according to a statement from Nomadix.
“That footprint then presents the same user experience since it is Nomadix Service Engine-based,” according to the prepared statement.
Nomadix calls its new roaming service an “intuitive way” for venue owners and service providers to expand and extend the wireless network, while increasing a site’s attractiveness.
“This is exactly the type of solution our customers are looking for to drive more room sales,” said Aaron Dobrinsky, CEO of RoomLinX, which provides hotels and convention centers with high speed wireless networking. European mobile carriers Vodafone and KPM will become part of the Nomadix roaming plan.
Nomadix also announced that it will partner with PicoPoint, a provider of hotspot management services for wireless ISPs, and global roaming services for mobile carriers and other service providers.
The partnership between Nomadix and Amsterdam-based PicoPoint “will enable both companies to expand network footprint,” says Ben van Dongen, CEO of PicoPoint.
Bauer says the partnership “truly opens the door for worldwide carrier roaming.”
Earlier this year, Nomadix and PicoPoint announced the Wireless WorkZone Alliance, formed to allow public and enterprise WLAN users to roam securely.
Nomadix is just the latest hotspot company working on how to solve the dilemma of roaming.
In late September, Airpath unveiled its own roaming program, called InterRoam. It also provides mobile carriers with back-end functions, such as billing, contracting and settlement, while offering what the Waltham, Mass.-based Wi-Fi hotspot management company calls ‘provider neutral’ roaming.
Wi-Fi hotspot provider Wayport has also recently announced roaming agreements. In September, Wayport and TOGEWAnet’s WeRoam signed a pact allowing wireless travelers to access hotspots in hotels and airports.