A group of wireless consultants have banded together to launch a company dedicated to providing Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi or WLAN) access in select public areas.
Air Portal, launched in Sydney yesterday, is attempting to be the channel that links Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to wireless LAN access points that it will install around major Australian CBDs. The customers of participating ISPs will then be able to connect to their ISP via such access points in cafes, hotels and other public locations.
The service Air Portal is offering is agnostic, thus the company is seeking to make arrangements with multiple ISPs that would be interested in offering their subscribers additional value. Customers accessing the Wi-Fis therefore use the same user name and passwords as their regular ISP account, and are charged for their time in the same bill as their existing ISP.
At the launch, Air Portal announced the first corporate ISP on board, Hyperlink, and announced that wireless access points have been installed at the Establishment Hotel and Avenue on Chifley in Sydney, as well as Bisq and The Hatch in Melbourne.
Air Portal president Andrew Hamilton said the company is looking at a range of public venues -- less likely the airports where the likes of SkyNetGlobal already offer such a service, and more likely CBD cafes.
Air Portal sources wireless access points through local distributor Logical Connections and installs them in the venue, or the venue sources its own wireless access points and merely contracts Air Portal to manage the ISP/customer relationships.
While Air Portal is currently using Colubris access points, Hamilton said the company is considering a range of technologies to implement in the future.
The obvious issue with any Wi-Fi implementation is security, but Hamilton said users are authenticated by a SSL log-in at the gateway, and that because the ISP owns the customer, it is the role of the ISP to ensure adequate security.