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July 28, 2003

Still Puzzling over This One

Is Tartara offering more than a turnkey box wired to Wayport's network?: I can't tell what Wayport's role in this announcement is. It sounds like Tartara has a turnkey hot spot box with backend authentication and billing, and is using Wayport's network (in trials) to demonstrate a seamless branded overlay. But it doesn't mention other networks, and Wayport's footprint is only one part of a larger network that any carrier would build out. It also seems like the market for Tartara's offering is small if Sprint PCS is one of the companies they cite as a good fit.

Insight, anyone? (Use the comments feature below.)


It goes like this. Tartara guys (Boston) are cellular and telco-types touting a 'platform' (really a billing system) that will push WiFi service as a line-item into the disparate billing systems that most (particularly cellular) carriers use. Since it isn't ready, they're simulating it (from the HTML user interface) on Wayport's network. ... Uh, see, Mr. Sprint, this is what your hotspots could be branded as and look like, and the $$ will flow into your pockets, IF you buy our 'platform'! ... I suspect Wayport has been offered a sweetheart deal on the eventual delivery of the Tata system to themselves, since they'll need heavy code to get Wayport user roaming tariffs into the Byzantine billing systems of the world's ILECs, RBOCs and international carriers. Try roaming in Paraguay.

I think that there are a couple of key points about the Tatara solution that may not have come through clearly. Tatara’s Wi-Fi Service Delivery Platform enables retail service providers – which includes the large potential customer universe of mobile operators, wireline carriers, ISPs, cable operators and others – to profitably support roaming relationships without sacrificing security, control or advanced capabilities. By retail service providers, we mean providers that own the end user relationship and may or may not own any 'hotspots’.

Specifically, Tatara's solution allows these providers to access real-time presence, location, state and reachability information for all of their end users in a roaming environment. And it does this:

a) without requiring that the data traffic be backhauled into the retail provider's network (which is expensive and impacts QoS);

b) without requiring that the hotspot operator deploy any special hardware or software (which would make it more difficult to acquire new roaming partners); and

c) in a manner that is fully compatible with the end user running a VPN (which is the dominant usage scenario in the public market).

In business terms, this means that the retail service provider maintains critical control of the end user relationship - including the ability to deliver additional content, location and messaging services to the end user and the ability to collect information in support of diagnostics, service quality monitoring or pricing plans from the end user. So while our solution can support authentication and can feed data to a carrier's billing system, this is only one small piece of the overall value that it offers.

Based on extensive conversations over the past two years with large wireless, wireline and cable operators in this space, we believe that addressing these issues is key to ensuring that tier one service providers fully embrace public Wi-Fi services.

Regarding our partnership with Wayport, Tatara and Wayport clearly both stand to benefit from the large-scale entry of tier one retail service providers into the public Wi-Fi market. From Wayport’s perspective, its partnership with Tatara makes it easier for service providers to enter the Wi-Fi market as Wayport partners. From Tatara’s perspective, the partnership provides a vehicle through which we can show service providers the benefits of our platform – and how it solves the key challenges discussed above. Note: The platform is currently available, but we are offering it as a “hosted” service for these trials to guarantee simple and rapid availablity to trial partners.

As you correctly point out, Wayport's footprint, while extremely valuable, represents only one piece of the total coverage that a large provider would look to offer. Using Tatara's platform, retail service providers can actually maintain control of their relationship with end users throughout their entire Wi-Fi “network footprint” – no matter how many roaming or resale relationships that they establish to expand this footprint.

Tatara's relationship with Wayport is, as stated in the release, purely to enable trials and to encourage retail service providers to enter or expand activities in this space. It is important to note that Tatara is not becoming a commercial 'aggregator' - our business is developing platform technologies for service providers. Any Tatara trial customer looking to launch a commercial service would negotiate a separate direct commercial relationship with Wayport (if they didn't have one already in place) and with other network wholesalers to support that service.

I hope that clarifies some of the confusion. Feel free to visit for further information.