Since launching just over three months ago, Cometa
Networks, a joint creation of AT&T, Intel and IBM along with investment
partners, has stayed on top of the radar and in the
headlines. In that time, the company hasn’t launched a working hotspot or
announced a single customer or venue location. Today’s the first: Cometa says
when it launches the first phase of its network — which isn’t expected to go
live in major metropolitan areas until the final quarter of 2003 — its hotspots
will be part of the iPass Global Broadband
Roaming (GBR) service for enterprise users.
iPass of Redwood Shores, CA, allows access to the GBR service via its iPassConnect
smart client software to its corporate customers. The network is a mix of both
wired and wireless locations around the globe. This partnership is expected
to expand the wireless portion of the network by hundreds of venues in the US,
Europe and Asia. In previous reports, Cometa has said it would launch 20,000
hotspots by the end of 2004.
Hotspots run by Cometa will use equipment supporting the Generic Interface
Specification (GIS), which iPass wants to see as an industry-standard
way for a smart client to connect with any number of access gateways. Jon Russo,
vice president of marketing at iPass says, "whichever technology they [Cometa]
choose, it will adhere to GIS so locations are ‘Enterprise Ready’."
That phrase refers to iPass’s quality assessment program to certify anyone
who’d like to be part of their virtual network.
Russo says this partnership "gives us the capability to reach out wirelessly
to new customers we couldn’t get before in our large footprint."
Focus on enterprise customers is the goal for both companies. Cometa will be
targeting mobile workers in cities, at least to start, in "highly business
traveled venues" like airports. But Russo says he expects Cometa to do
trials everything from fast food restaurants to even just parking lots.