WiFi players build mobile platform

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WiFi access provider Hotspot Global and wireless broadband vendor SkyNetGlobal have allied to create a common platform for WiFi roaming using mobile phones.

David Horovitz, director of strategic alliances at Queensland-based Hotspot Global, said the engagement with SkyNetGlobal was one more step towards a global, multi-vendor wireless network.

“Our business model enables hotspot service providers to get more locations or bring in customers to their locations,” he said.

Horovitz said that one of the biggest barriers to adoption of public wireless networks and hotspots was that different vendors and networks did not link. Thus, someone might have to pay once to join one ISP at one airport, and then again to use another location's hotspots.

“The thing about WiFi is that it is one small footprint with an access point. To be able to get a total wireless infrastructure, providers need to go and sell to the location owners,” he said.

The deal with SkyNetGlobal combined efforts to further develop Hotspot Global's “clearing house” software -– which enables small and large service providers to bill each other's customers in a similar way to Visa account holders based at different banks -– with SkyNetGlobal's IXM software for WiFi-enabled mobile phones. Such phones would soon be used at public access wireless hotspots and WiFi was cheaper and faster than emerging 3G mobile phone technology, the companies claimed.

The strategic alliance also arranged for multilateral global roaming, allowing SkyNetGlobal subscribers access to all Hotspot Global's public hotspots on the eastern seaboard and across Asia.

Jonathon Soon, CEO at SkyNetGlobal, said Hotspot Global's business complemented those of his company.

“They are also a good fit because Queensland was our weakest state in terms of hotspot coverage, so gaining access to projects [by Hotspot Global] like the Queensland Government's WiFi deployment solves some immediate needs,” Soon said.

Kurt Nasarenko, director of marketing at Hotspot Global, said he believed legacy systems such as WiFi provider group GRIC didn't make it easy enough for small, niche service providers to participate in roaming arrangements.

“Hotspots need to be used as easily as using a mobile telephone, so we started looking at business models that could achieve that,” Nasarenko said.

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