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Toshiba and iPass join forces in Wi-Fi effort

More of the high tech world is jumping onto the wireless ''hot spot'' bandwagon. The latest to join the party, Toshiba's Computer Systems Group and iPass Inc., joined forces to integrate hot spots based on Toshiba's technology into the iPass Global Broadband Roaming (GBR) service.

Wireless LAN hot spots provide high-speed access to e-mail, data and business-critical applications using virtually any wireless LAN and mobile access device in public areas, such as airports, hotels and restaurants. Public wireless access is considered a hot growth area. Researchers at Analysis Consulting expect the number of 802.11 wireless hot spots in public venues to grow to 41,000 and reach 21 million users worldwide by 2007.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based iPass enables secure access via wireless and wireline broadband, ISDN, dial-up and other access media, over multiple computer platforms and devices, through its iPassConnect client.

The iPass GBR service is a connectivity service that includes over 400 Wi-Fi hot spots across the globe, according to the company. Currently, the iPass GBR service includes airports in Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, San Jose and Seattle. In addition, the GBR service provides over 100,000 wireline broadband access points in hotels.

This agreement will permit iPass enterprise users to access the Internet and their corporate networks at Wi-Fi locations operated by local and regional service providers, but managed by Toshiba. Toshiba will provide commercial venues, such as hotels and coffee shops, or wireless ISPs, with the hot-spot equipment, back-end support for their wireless system and tier 1 end-user support. Toshiba plans to have 1,000 hot spots in its network by year's end, the company said.

''Toshiba is uniquely positioned to be successful in the hot spot market,'' said Anurag Lal, iPass vice president of business development. He said his firm's security expertise should work well with Toshiba's ''aggressive approach to deploying hot spots at locations as diverse as coffee shops and hotels.''

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Toshiba's Computer Systems Group, a division of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. (TAIS), is a maker of notebook computers, portable and wireless accessories, Pocket PC devices, projectors and mobile server computing solutions.

''Wireless is the next frontier and its adoption will be driven by enterprise users,'' said Oscar Koenders, vice president of product marketing for Toshiba CSG. ''For six years iPass has been perfecting the way the mobile enterprise workforce connects to corporate resources'' and thus becomes ''Toshiba's first alliance in our new wireless strategy.''

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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