Wi-Fi Developers Pursue Plans for More Services
Major carriers disagree on the commercial viability of public WLAN hot spots and, as such, are taking very different approaches to the market.NEW ORLEANSMajor carriers disagree on the commercial viability of public WLAN hot spots and, as such, are taking very different approaches to the market. While companies such as Nextel Communications Inc. and Sprint PCS Group are taking a wait-and-see approach to 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, others such as Verizon Wireless Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and Cingular Wireless are moving ahead with new services. The latter moves are not surprising, considering the rapid rollouts of wireless LAN hot spots. Currently, there are some 3,000 commercial, pay-per-use WLANs deployed throughout the United States, the majority of which run on Wi-Fi. Other companies, such as Verizon, that were on hand at the CTIA Wireless show here last week are planning to ride that wave. The Bedminster, N.J., company plans to offer complementary access between its branded WLAN hot-spot service and its WAN by the third quarter. Working with hot-spot provider Wayport Inc., of Austin, Texas, Verizon will provide network monitoring, authentication and billing for the roaming service, which will be available through distribution channels, including business-to-business sales teams.
Wayport also has a roaming deal with AT&T Wireless, which sells Wi-Fi services through its enterprise sales force. The Redmond, Wash., wireless carrier has additional plans to make Wi-Fi less of a separate entity and more of a complement to its wide-area GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network.
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