RealTime IT News

PCTEL Client Gains Customers

Chicago-based PCTEL , makers of roaming software for wireless networks, announced this week that its Segue Roaming Client software will be offered as the software of choice for use in hotspots run by AT&T Wireless and WiFi-Texas, a regional ISP going national as the VAR/provider for hotspots at Schlotzsky's Deli restaurants.

Biju Nair, Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Software Product Development at PCTEL, says this deal is unique in the world of hotspots, because "its the first time a major carrier with a software client will let users roam to any of their roaming partners' networks, while showing them still on the AT&T Wireless network."

Cellular telco AT&T Wireless launched its GoPort service in January this year. At the time, the service was in only in one airport (Denver) but was coupled in the telco's deal with hotspot provider Wayport. Thus GoPort subscribers could use any of Wayport's Wi-Fi locations in hotels and airports, nationwide.

At the time of launch, the GoPort service did not require special software to access-- users logged on through a captured portal Web page, assuming their laptop found the wireless network. AT&T Wireless says the Segue Client will provided its users "a one-step solution to logging on."

The software will be made available for download on the AT&T Wireless Web site and on the portal page users see when they sign on at hotspots. Prices range from $9.99 for a one time connect to $69.99 for unlimited monthly use.

WiFi-Texas, based in Austin, Texas, is the wireless Internet service provider (WISP) behind the free access at the Schlotzsky's Deli restaurant chain . Schlotzsky's Deli has been offering free Wi-Fi in locations around Austin and Houston since late last year, but is planning to expand to all of its 620 locations nationwide. WiFi-Texas provides the equipment and software, and sets up the broadband connection for each restaurant location.

Murray Freeman of WiFi-Texas says the choice to use the Segue Client has to do with cost savings in the area of technical support.

"If there's any issues of connectivity and a user has to approach someone in the store, we'll have the CD [with the Segue Client] there so they can install it and run," says Freeman. "Schlotzsky's staff should be selling sandwiches, not supporting tech."

The version handed out on the CD is the same as the 30-day trial found at PCTEL.com. Nair says, "Once they start using it, we're confident in the ability of the product, they'll find a compelling reason to buy it and use it elsewhere as well."

The Segue Roaming Client is software for Windows 98SE/ME/NT/2000/XP that lets users move from wireless LAN to wireless LAN; the company also has a Dual-Mode version for moving between Wi-Fi networks and 2.5G (CDMA2000 1X or GPRS) network data services, assuming their laptops have 2.5G cellular support. They recently announced plans to build Mobile IP technology from Norwegian company Birdstep into the dual-mode client to further facilitate seamless roaming.

The client is available direct from PCTEL for a 30-day trial, which will work at any 802.11-based hotspot.