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Wi-Fi Gaining In The Enterprise

Wi-Fi hotspot aggregators are increasingly appealing to IT organizations, as the wireless technology becomes a complement to existing enterprise remote access and broadband services, according to a report from META Group.

The report observes that enterprise customers like the idea of dealing with one aggregator delivering broad geographic coverage and security. "Numerous service aggregation companies have now entered the Wi-Fi services market," said META in its report. "The aggregation business model is built on the idea that the individual aggregator maintains the relationship with the customer and brokers the use of many different networks from any number of national, regional, or local providers. This alleviates the need for an enterprise to maintain relationships with multiple providers and ensures broader network coverage."

The report was prepared by program director Chris Kozup of the firm's Technology Research Services unit. Over the next two to three years, Kozup expects Wi-Fi aggregators will enhance their offerings by adding such services as better security, client customization, and help-desk support.

The company also ranked leading Wi-Fi aggregators along with their distinctive features: Boingo has captured a broad swath of hotspot locations, but has not aggressively added security features; Fiberlink offers additional features, such as Internet dial-up and managed VPN services; GRIC--which has an agreement with AT&T to resell its Wi-Fi service--also has strong security features; and iPass customizes IT enterprise customers to its global network with strong security and various additional network access, including broadband, ISDN, and dial-up.