Pronto Networks of Pleasanton, Calif., a provider of Operations Support Systems for public access Wi-Fi venues — AKA hotspots — announced this week that its latest customer isn’t going for the traditional Internet access via wireless market. Instead, Ansat Communications of New York City will offer Wi-Fi to its C4 Game Club patrons so they can compete against each other in real-time online games.
C4 Game Clubs already have about 4.7 million end users, most of who play anonymously. “Through this initiative they can come together in public venues,” says Jasbir Singh, CEO of Pronto Networks. “It’s important, to show that [Wi-Fi is] not just for Internet but also for value adds.”
Ansat, which bills itself as the “fastest growing and largest online game portal” has locations in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe. Pronto says that affiliate C4 locations are already open with Wi-Fi in cities like Denver; Atlanta; St. Charles, Mo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Sugar Land, Texas. The C4 clubs are usually incorporated into venues such as restaurants, coffee shops, and in one case above, an athletic shoe store.
“This is the first attempt in the public WLAN area to offer other value added services on top of Wi-Fi,” says Singh. “We think the growth driver of this market will be multi-player games.” He also said Voice over IP telephony is also a potential growth area.
Pronto says it is helping with the C4 Game Club rollout, hoping to make sure there’s low latency on the connections, which can kill decent game play fast. Beyond the rollout, he says, it’s up to the customers of Ansat.
Subscribers to the “Wi-Fi Ultimate Game Club Service” get the Pronto box, branded as a C4 IP Gateway. For $67.95 per month, they get unlimited access to any C4 Game Club online games. Users log in through a Web page. IP telephony is another service that will be available through the gateway. Eventually, Ansat will sell ads.