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AT&T Adds More Wi-Fi Access For VPNs

AT&T is adding another feature to its suite of Virtual Private Network services for businesses: Wi-Fi hotspots in airports and hotels around the globe that provide employees remote access to their enterprise networks.

The company said it is deploying secure remote wireless access to its IPSec (Internet Protocol-base security) VPN with wireless connections from 2,000 Wi-Fi spots in 20 countries. The service will be available in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Wednesday's announcement from AT&T is the next phase in the company's plan to provide secure, wireless Internet access to business customers so users have another option to access their corporate Intranets, said Kate Rankin, an AT&T spokesperson.

Earlier this year, AT&T said it would be making capital investments of $500 million on all its network infrastructure upgrades. Rankin said this is one component of that half billion-dollar investment. "By adding Wi-Fi access to our virtual private network we are complimenting our strategy of providing Wi-Fi alternative access options," she said.

AT&T is also acting as a wholesale network provider for Cometa Networks, the broadband wireless Internet access company created by AT&T, Intel, IBM and venture firms Apax and 3i last December.

Rankin said AT&T's own business solutions division would likely add corporate wireless access to its VPN in 2004 to an expanded number of countries and business clients around the world.

"AT&T currently has thousands of business customers which utilize VPN's to access their corporate networks through dial-up, dedicated wireline networks, DSL, and now we are adding a new option, through this Wi-Fi deal," said Rankin.

She said the Wi-Fi wireless option for accessing corporate and public networks would be priced for business clients as part of their overall VPN Solution contracts.

Some of the countries where AT&T will be providing wireless access to corporate VPN's include Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

AT&T is creating its new Wi-Fi business access service through a deal with GRIC Communications, which will assist in the integration of GRIC's wireless access points into the AT&T Global Network Remote Access software, according to AT&T.

Updates story to remove incorrect references to Cometa as a provider of Wi-Fi access in McDonalds Restaurants in the San Francisco area. The provider is actually wireless ISP Wayport.