Infonet, Boingo form global Wi-Fi partnership

IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Corporate customers of Infonet Services Corp. will be able to access more than 5,000 broadband wireless hotspots managed globally by Boingo Wireless Inc., under an agreement announced Tuesday at the Telecom World 2003 conference and exhibition in Geneva.

The partnership extends the coverage of Infonet's wireless MobileXpress service, which is largely based on the Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) footprint of TOGEWAnet AG of Bern, Switzerland. Infonet provides communication services to more than 2.5 million users, according to Marc Patterson, vice president of the mobile workforce solutions group for Infonet, based in El Segundo, Calfornia.

Under the agreement, Infonet and Boingo will incorporate TOGEWANet's hotspots and security technology using SIM (subscriber identification module) technology in new client software, to be available in early 2004. The software will also include Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS), a security technology used by Boingo, an aggregator of Wi-Fi hotspots.

The client software, which will carry the Infonet brand name, will include Boingo's hotspot location and directory functions.

Early next year, Boingo intends to enhance the client server with a feature that allows users to use packet-switched mobile services, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), in addition to Wi-Fi capability; according to Boingo President David Hagan. The company is currently working on the technology for one of its large U.S. customers, T-Mobile USA Inc.

"It's all about wireless broadband roaming," Patterson said. "We have a lot of customers, particularly in Europe, telling us they want to be able to roam onto a mobile data network where they don't have Wi-Fi access."

In Geneva, Boingo announced three new network sharing agreements, one of which is with Telecom Italia SpA. Under the deal, Boingo will integrate the Italian operator's hotspots, which will include more than 200 by the end of 2003 and 1,000 in 2004. Telecom Italia customers, in turn, will be able to access Boingo's global Wi-Fi network. Boingo is based in Santa Monica, California.

The other deals include one with privately held PicoPoint, an Amsterdam-based Wi-Fi hotspot operator, which operates 75 hotspots in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and another with The Cloud network, launched by several partners including Inspired Broadband Networks Ltd. The network has more than 2,500 hotspots mostly in pubs, clubs, licensed betting halls and casinos.

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