Issue #2003 - 08
INFRASTRUCTURE, PRODUCTS & SERVICES
WiFi News This Week
1. iPass and Cometa to Work Together on Wi-Fi Networks
- iPass to make available Cometa's planned metro-area Wi-Fi networks as part of its Global Broadband Roaming service
2. Toshiba and Accenture Join Hands to offer hot spot in a box
After several months
of waiting and testing, Irvine,CA's Toshiba's Computer Systems
Group (CSG) has launched its Toshiba
Hotspot Solution. The goal: 10,000 hotspots based on Toshiba's
hardware by the end of the year.
Toshiba has long seen price as the
stumbling block to getting more venues to install hotspots.
"It didn't seem economically
rational for the hotspot folks to pay for expensive equipment,"
says John Marston, VP of Business Development at Toshiba CSG.
"The work we've done for the last year and half is about how to
take the cost out of the business."
The box Toshiba will provide to
channel partners, who will then resell them to venue owners, is an
integrated router and 802.11b access point complete with access
point controller built in, all for $199 wholesale. The hardware is
designed for use with inexpensive DSL
lines using dynamic IP addressing, saving a venue owner having to
own a more expensive static IP from their provider or a $500+ T1
All the monitoring for the hotspots
will take place back at the Toshiba network operations center (NOC).
Toshiba will be working with Accenture (Quote,
Info) for the program's business and operational support, from
billing to end-user help.
"Think of us as being like Cometa," says Marston,
"but cheaper and with a six month lead on them."
The program has been in beta trialing
since May of 2002, and as of January 29 Toshiba started to ship full
production models of the hotspot hardware.
Toshiba is launching a program with
the same business model in Canada, and will hit "country after
To identify the hotspots, Toshiba
expects venues to us the Wi-Fi
ZONE sticker, a program recently begun by the Wi-Fi
Alliance. He points out that the sticker can carry a Toshiba
logo as well. The upcoming launch of Intel's Centrino mobile
platform and its accompanying ad campaign is also likely to help
The cost of the Toshiba hardware for
venue owners will probably be a bit more than $200 (so resellers can
see some profit). Marston figures just two or three customers a day
at a hotspot paying $10 per 24-hour access will let the venue owner
break even: the cost of the box and the DSL line is so low,
especially amortized over a year. This is even taking into account a
revenue split where Toshiba gets 50%, the reseller/operator gets 30%
and the venue owner gets 20%.
Toshiba partners will vary from big
nationals to small local resellers, all pushing to get as many
hotspots into communities as possible. The Toshiba-based hotspots
will also be part of the iPass Global Broadband Roaming service, so
corporate iPass users can use
them to access their enterprise networks while traveling.
"If you've got 2000 hotspots in
your city, it gets interesting. Only two, that's academic,"
says Marston. "There's got to be tens of thousands of them. I'm
confident we'll achieve it."
3. Inspired, Leisure Link to blanket UK with 30,000 hot spots
U.K.-based Inspired Broadcast next Monday will launch its "pubs and clubs" chain of 802.11 hotspots in 3,000 different locations. It hopes to bring this number up to 30,000 locations before the end of the year (for comparison: recall that Cometa hopes to have a network of 20,000 hot spots in the United States by the end of 2004). The origins of the network are in the gaming machine business -- Inspired is making most of its money from pay-to-play games on mobile phones. Inspired's collaborator in the venture is Leisure Link, which operates gambling and video game machines in pubs, sports centers, and social clubs. If the two companies succeed, they will create the U.K.'s largest network of wireless Internet access points. Luke Alvarez, Inspired founder and CEO, said the company would reveal its price structure next Monday. The company's ambition, he said, is "To be an open backbone, such that any number of operators -- WISPS -- can use our locations."
4. 802.11b NICs' prices keep falling
802.11 network interface cards (NICs) are heading toward a major price drop in the second half of this year, reaching near $10 from the current $16 to $17, as new players aggressively try to secure their position in the lucrative, but already saturated market.
Source - Several, including TechWeb, 802.11planet and Fierce 80211newsletter
MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: We
see Cometa-IPass relationship to be significant. Both are important
players with clout. Across the Atlantic (the pond, as the British
would call it), leisure Link announces a more ambitious plan to have
30,000 hot spots in a year. Remember, growing WiFi hotspots is like
growing mushrooms. But you do need BCC (Billing and customer Care)
infrastructure. Cometa and Toshiba can do that. On the consumer
side, prices of wireless NICs are falling like Ethernet cards did
several years ago. Notebooks have WiFi as a standard feature now.
Next target area - PDAs. For smart phones, we would let Bluetooth
provide the connectivity.
As you will observe, WiFi train is
gaining speed. Many small players have proven the concept and large
players (Cometa with IBM behind the company) have moved in. The
wireless providers have reluctantly joined the fray but more with
"me-to" approach, saying to customers you really need wide
area 2.5G/3G solutions. Public hotspot market will require a lot of
mass deployment and will take at least two to three years to reach a
level where we can say that you can locate one within a block in
large metropolitan areas. On the enterprise side too, security
problems are getting solved. We see a bright side to the hybrid
network story (Wireless LAN and WWAN integration) we started
promoting in mid 2001with our editorial.
Note: This news release may contain
forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the
Securities Act of 1933 and section 21E of Securities Exchange act of
1934 in USA. Similar provisions exist in other countries. There is no
assurance that the stipulated plans of vendors will be implemented.
MobileInfo does not warrant the authenticity of the information.
Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing
these products, services and technology architectures. All
trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective