iPass unveiled an application Thursday designed to give Android smartphone users secure connections to 150,000 Wi-Fi hotspots globally.
The Wi-Fi capability in the iPass Open Mobile for Android app means business users will have a lower-cost Wi-Fi alternative to cellular 3G connections, iPass officials said.
IPass launched its Open Mobile Platform in January to provide a cloud-based mobile connection service for large business customers. The platform was extended to smartphones running Android 2.1 and higher with today's announcement; other mobile operating systems will be added in the future, a spokeswoman said.
The iPass Open Mobile for Android notifies and connects a user to the iPass Mobile network, which includes 20,000 free hotspots as well as corporate and personal networks that iPass manages, for a total of 150,000 hotspots.
IT managers can track and log user activity with detailed reports through iPass Mobile Insight, a component of Open Mobile.
IPass, formed in 1996, has 3,500 business customers and about 2 million unique users. The iPass Open Mobile software will start at $7 per user per month (less for large numbers of users), plus network costs for those that need it, for an average of $30 a month per user in large deployments, the spokeswoman said.
IPass has found that its business customers include workers who travel and can avoid expensive 3G costs by resorting to Wi-Fi. How expensive? In one example, a business traveler connected to a 3G network from a laptop in a hotel room in England to watch a single U.S. football game, racking up a total bill of $20,000, the spokeswoman said.
In addition, iPass has found that many business users want to connect using Wi-Fi because it offers somewhat faster data speeds than 3G, not just because it might be less expensive.
IPass earned its reputation with business customers with iPass Connect, an older mobile connection platform. The biggest difference with iPass Open Mobile is that it offers IT shops more management tools and a simpler interface for the user, the spokeswoman said.