05:58 PM

IPass Offers Dual 3G, Wi-Fi Hotspot Service

The iPassConnect wireless combo is aimed at busy road warriors with a price plan that starts at $29.95 a month.

When iPass recently surveyed user behavior across its base of more than 3,000 enterprise customers, it found that the customers constantly increased both their Wi-Fi and 3G usage. With that in mind, the company Monday introduced a mobility service that combines Wi-Fi hotspot and 3G accessibility.

The iPassConnect service also includes wired hotel broadband and global dial-up accessibility. The subscription-based service has price plans that start at $29.95 a month. Customers ordering a Wi-Fi/3G combo plan are sent a 3G plug-and-play card for their laptops.

The plan is aimed at busy road warriors, who can use the service to access nearly 1,000 hotspots in more than 500 airports and more than 20,000 hotels, including chains like Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott where a day's use of broadband often costs $25. The Wi-Fi service also enables users to access 95,000 retail locations, including Starbucks coffeehouses and McDonald's restaurants.

The iPassConnect service also provides data rates of up to 1.4 Mbps over its 3G feature. In areas where there is no 3G or a hotspot can't be located, the service's slower-speed dial-up feature kicks in.

In the survey, iPass found that business users had increased their Wi-Fi hotspot use 89% in the second half of 2007 over the second half of the previous year. 3G usage also increased -- by 70% -- over the same period.

The survey revealed that the European hotspot market was growing dramatically -- its Wi-Fi market share jumped to 40% from 31% in the surveyed period, while the U.S. market share dropped to 51% from 59%.

The company looked at usage in airports, which accounts for the majority of Wi-Fi hotspot usage. Usage in terminals alone accounts for 45% of all Wi-Fi hotspot usage, while hotel usage makes up 29% of total usage. IPass said it believes many 3G users seek out Wi-Fi hotspots in areas where they can't get robust 3G.

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