Leading technology companies AT&T, Intel and IBM, and global investment concerns Apax Partners and 3i today announced they are utilizing their collective technologies and capabilities to create a new company, Cometa Networks, that will provide broadband, wholesale, wireless Internet access nationwide.
Cometa Networks plans to provide this service to telecommunications companies, Internet Service providers (ISPs), cable operators and wireless carriers, who then can offer their customers wireless Internet access, using wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) technology, also called 802.11. Cometa will also offer wireless Internet access to enterprise customers through the participating carriers.
The company will work with major national and regional retail chains, hotels, universities and real estate firms to deploy the broadband wireless access service in "hot spots" throughout the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas.
Cometa's service will make it possible for users to keep existing sign-on procedures, email addresses, IDs, passwords and payment methods -- regardless of whether they are accessing the Internet via an ISP, corporate virtual private network, telecommunications provider or cable operator.
"Wi-Fi will bring distributed computing into the general public environment leading to increased business productivity and new consumer applications," said Lawrence B. Brilliant, Chief Executive Officer, Cometa Networks. "Mobile professionals want a consistent, integrated solution that makes it easier to access reports, customer information and email using their existing Internet accounts, whether a mile from home or across the country."
"Wi-Fi technology gives mobile workers high-performance productivity tools that help them boost performance and customer service -- whenever and wherever they're working," Brilliant added.
Cometa Networks' 802.11 network access is targeted to begin roll out during 2003 in top 50 U.S. urban markets. The company is in talks with customers and additional partners.
AT&T plans to provide network infrastructure and management. IBM plans to provide wireless site installations and back-office systems.
"Cometa Networks plans to achieve critical economies of scale by building on the retail brands and customer reach of service providers," said Theodore Schell, Cometa Networks Chairman and General Partner of Apax Partners. "Our goal at Cometa Networks is to provide the quality of service, nationwide footprint and seamless integration into corporate networks that will stand the test of demanding enterprises."
Cometa Networks will have offices in San Francisco and New York. The initial Board will consist of Lawrence B. Brilliant, Cometa's CEO; Ted Schell, General Partner of Apax Partners; and Robin Murray, General Partner at 3i. Financial details were not disclosed.