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More on Cometa's business plans from Business 2.0: As I wrote yesterday, and even after reading this article, I continue to believe that Cometa is not building out its estimated 50,000 hot spot network on its own dime. I believe they will be seeking infrastructure dollars from any venue they build into.
Peter Kaminski believes this is actually a play to make Intel's capital division -- devoting to $150M to Wi-Fi investments -- and IBM Global Services -- a group that, among many other things, unwires businesses for money -- seem more important than they are. This completely ties into my theory.
InfoWorld reveals more about this whole situation, with Ephraim Schwartz finding out from Cometa that they will not pursue airports, and also finding that the CEO and another executive have differing notions of whether Cometa will support roaming agreements with other networks. Ephraim's article puts their build-out at 20,000 hot spots, although I thought I've seen 50,000 elsewhere.
Another way to look at Cometa is the ultimate vindication of Boingo's model in which branded service providers (top level, customer service/user interaction) buy from aggregators (Boingo, iPass, GRIC), who buy from infrastructure builders who make deals with real-estate owners (stores, hotels, etc.). In fact, on a panel I moderated at 802.11 Planet, the VP of marketing at Wayport confirmed that Wayport sees itself as a company building vendor-neutral hot spots, offering partnership access to any location it builds out. This is now a plus to venues, which want to maximize their revenue possibilities, where perhaps a year or more ago, some venues thought they were leaving money on the table by opening to all comers.
Also, made the connection with the prodding of a fellow journalist a few days ago that Cometa's CEO was also the head of SoftNet, the company behind the short-lived AerZone, which, in Dec. 2000, with contracts signed with SFO, United, and Delta (the former for the airport, the latter for airport waiting areas) shut down operations because of a poor capital climate. They had also purchased Laptop Lanes, from which they spun some locations off to Wayport last year.
I spoke to Rafe Needleman, who wrote the piece linked above, at the Supernova 2002 conference I'm attending today and tomorrow, and he said that he's convinced that Cometa intends to spend their dollars to build out other people's vnues with their infrastructure, but they expect that they'll be selling access to their network to large corporations.
Wi-Fi year in review: The Seattle Times runs through the major Wi-Fi stories of 2002 in a concise and interesting fashion, hitting the high points and telling the business story behind them.
Intersil and Cambridge Silicon Radio combine Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for smart results: This combined 802.11b/Bluetooth design allows shared information between the two protocols vastly increasing throughput even in the worst cases. Exactly what's needed moving forward with both standards.
Canada puts money where their hot spots are: investments, expansion: The Edmonton Journal reports an investment of Cdn$6 million in a Great North hot spot outfit that will allow Telus cellular customers to have single-bill service for cell and Wi-Fi. Although the article states that several Canadian airports offer free Wi-Fi access, I'm unaware of any. Several I know of have for-fee access.
India to open up rural 2.4 GHz: India, which has already allowed indoor and outdoor unlicensed use of the band in which Wi-Fi operates, is planning to open up long-haul links for rural connectivity. In a country with such scattered population outside of some megalopolises, bringing broadband without wires could help transform political activism, economy, and education. Could.