As competition to aggregate Wi-Fi "hot spots" heats up, GRIC Communications said it has developed new services that will differentiate its offerings from other contenders in the market.
GRIC this week announced security solutions that go beyond a typical bundled VPN, said John Rasmus, vice president of business and corporate development at the company. GRIC also plans to announce additional security and connectivity initiatives later this month.
"We have a solution that we think is unique," Rasmus said. "We're going to have a strong focus on bundling leading-edge security solutions with Wi-Fi and broadband in general," he said.
GRIC will focus its efforts on security and technology that allows business travelers to access corporate information through different wireless broadband connections, Rasmus said. The technology will sidestep IP issues that make it difficult to use VPNs on every broadband connection, Rasmus said.
"We think if we can provide those two elements, we can overcome an IT department's reticence to rapidly deploy Wi-Fi," Rasmus said.
GRIC's most recent announcement adds user intrusion-detection and firewall services to the company's offering, as well as management software that allows administrators to provision access and monitor activity.
Danny Hamady, president and CEO of Momentum Microsystems, a Fremont, Calif.-based solution provider and GRIC partner, said large corporations were looking for a good security solution before embracing Wi-Fi as an access technology. "Security is becoming a major factor. Once that gets straightened out, 802.11b is going to take off."
Like other players in the wireline and wireless space, GRIC wants to be known as more than a connectivity provider. Rasmus said GRIC, which once aggregated dial-up access exclusively, is now calling itself a mobile office solutions provider. In addition to providing value-added services, GRIC will also look to add 2.5G and 3G wireless networks to its roster over time.
"Users don't care what the technology is, they just want the access," he said.
Adding more wireless connections would pit the company against other wireless aggregates such as GoAmerica.
Hackensack, N.J.-based GoAmerica, which recently signed a nationwide Wi-Fi partnership with aggregator Boingo Wireless and added 2.5G network roaming agreements with Verizon Wireless and VoiceStream Wireless, indicated the company is also eyeing value-added services on a recent earnings call with analysts. GoAmerica already offers Go Office, a solution that provides mobile workers wireless access to back-end corporate data. The solution provides advanced VPN security options, the company said.
GRIC said it expects to have 2,000 to 4,000 Wi-Fi access points in up to 1,000 locations worldwide this year, Rasmus said. Also this week, the company announced a deal to use access points from Wayport, an Austin, Texas-based provider of Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity in hotels and major airports.