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iPass expands worldwide Wi-Fi offering with 20 million more hotspots

Wireless network aggregator iPass signs an agreement with competitor Devicescape to offer even more widespread internet access to customers

Commercial Wi-Fi network operator iPass has claimed its partnership with curated Wi-Fi network owner Devicescape will make it the largest wireless network in the world.

The alliance will see iPass integrate Devicescape’s curated virtual network (CVN) into its own operations, allowing its customers to access an amenity Wi-Fi network composed of more than 20 million hotspots, in addition to its existing network of 30 million hotspots.

According to iPass CEO Gary Griffiths, the move will mean iPass has now doubled in size in the past seven months.

“With a global population of more than seven billion data-hungry people, and estimates of more than 28 billion smart devices in use by 2020, seamless global connectivity delivered via a standard format and user experience will be fundamental,” he said.

Griffiths hailed the new agreement as significant not just because it moved iPass customers “closer to ubiquitous connectivity”, but also because it helped iPass stake a claim to offering Wi-Fi accessibility for the internet of things.

Devicescape bases its offering on a crowdsourced approach to network discovery and uses cloud-based machine learning to aggregate various Wi-Fi networks – located in places such as hotels, airport terminals, cafes and shops – into a single carrier-grade CVN.

It claims its “highly versatile connectivity asset” offers strategic benefits to a growing number of stakeholders, including mobile network operators, mobile virtual network operators and Wi-Fi first operators.

The firm said too many people in the comms industry viewed commercial and public Wi-Fi networks as competing and incompatible resources. The partnership, it said, will expose the flaws in this thinking, and emphasise the value of a service that exploits the characteristics of both.

“No single network in isolation can deliver the quality and consistency of connectivity that users require,” said Devicescape CEO Dave Fraser. “We are thrilled to be contributing our CVN to this ambitious undertaking.”

The partnership also extends Devicescape further into the enterprise market – iPass already has a sizeable presence among large businesses, with notable customers including Scandinavian Airlines, which gives its flight crews access to iPass’ global network as an element of their electronic flight bags. The integration of the two services is expected to be complete by the end of the current calendar quarter.

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Perhaps the start of a trend, where free access to WI-Fi is universal. We'll work on the "free" part later....
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