This week, GRIC Communications
of Milpitas, Calif., and STSN, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced that STSN’s network of 580 broadband-enable hotels — 427 of which use Wi-Fi — would become part of the virtual network GRIC offers to subscribers.
GRIC’s TierOne Network has over 2,300 locations now, with a mixture of Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet broadband. Subscribers use the GRIC MobileOffice software interface to find and access member networks. GRIC also provides dial-up and ISDN connections.
STSN is one of the few network providers that is making roaming several deals to expand its user base. This announcement follows STSN making its network available to Boingo Wireless subscribers last month. The network has been a part of the iPass service since May.
Sandra Richards, director of marketing at STSN, says that such deals “absolutely grows our market. It makes it easier for their users, and that means more users at our systems.”
The financials of the deals STSN has with each aggregator usually consist of partners paying a network management fee, says Richards. That fee may then be shared with the hotel if STSN has a deal covering that prearranged.
STSN is a preferred provider of broadband for the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains, but individually-owned franchise locations are allowed to select any provider they want for broadband access, both wired or wireless.
STSN’s stance on allowing roaming over its network isn’t shared by some other operators of major hotspot networks, most notably T-Mobile Hotspot, which operates the largest hotspot network in the United States with locations in Starbucks Coffee Shops and Borders Books & Music Stores. T-Mobile doesn’t allow users of any other service to roam onto its network. The company does, however, have a deal with Boingo to have them develop a client-server solution using Boingo’s Platform Services to converge Wi-Fi and GPRS 2.5G access.