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Remote access provider expands Euro Wi-Fi coverage

Gric picks Cloud, PicoPoint, Monzoon

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Three European Wi-Fi networks - UK's The Cloud, Switzerland's Monzoon and the Netherlands' PicoPoint - have agreed to allow US enterprise-oriented remote access solutions provider Gric Communicatins to offer its customers WLAN access via their hotspots.

Gric currently has over 3000 Wi-Fi and fixed network access points in 20 countries, sold to its corporate customers as the Gric Tier One Network. To date, Gric has signed agreements with 48 Wi-Fi service providers in 32 countries.Today's deal adds at least 2200 hotspots to that tally in the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and South Africa.

The Cloud has an aggressive hotspot roll-out programme and plans to have over 2500 in place by the end of the year. This summer it signed a deal with payphone provider NWP to install Wi-Fi access points across NWP's network. While the roll-out is a slow one, the deal gives The Cloud a potential base of 10,000 hotspots.

Monzoon, by contrast, has around 50 hotspots of its own. PicoPoint can offer only 75 right now. Like The Cloud, PicoPoint recently signed a roaming deal with US hotspot aggregator Boingo. Boingo has also signed a deal with Gric rival Infonet, which also offers secure remote access services to corporates.

What all this deal activity is doing is paving the way for mass Wi-Fi coverage delivered by providers all around the world. At this rate, users will easily be able to roam from one network to another. And if individuals and companies don't trade with network providers directly, said providers will accrue revenue through deals with firms that offer remote access services.

Key to making all this work are robust, integrated billing systems which ensure no matter where a user joins the network, his or her access fees - or a proportion of them - get delivered to all the parties with a financial interest: the hotspot owner, the host location, the network aggregator, the actual network to which the user has subscribed and other access service providers. ®

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