iiNet zones in on Wi-Fi hotspot technology

Hotspot technology lets users get seamless Internet access nation wide, and owners to cash in on it

iiNet has struck a deal with Tomizone Limited, a New Zealand-based company offering services that allows Wi-Fi routers to share Internet bandwidth.

The agreement is designed to turn the everyday hotspot into a virtual Wi-Fi vending machine that anyone can operate and gain financial rewards from, or simply purchase time online no matter where they are.

Anyone that uses iiNet to setup a Tomizone hotspot will be connected to the global Tomizone service platform, which allows them to share their bandwidth -- at a cost -- with fellow subscribers that wander into their network.

The Tomizone software administrates usage, collects revenue and can pay out earnings directly into the bank accounts of hotspot owners.

"iiNet will be a distributor of Tomizone hotspots to their customers," explained Steve Simms, CEO of Tomizone,

He said iiNet customers will have access to up to 100MB of monthly usage on any of its hotspots around the world. If they run out of their allocation they just buy more. "But if they own a Tomizone hotspot themselves they will be making 50 percent of any paid usage on their broadband connection," he said.

Earlier in the year, Tomizone signed a deal with D-Link to incorporate its Wi-Fi hotspot solution into selected wireless routers, and are currently working with iiNet manufacturers to integrate the Tomizone software into iiNet products.

Currently, D-Link's DI524UP router comes with pre-installed Tomizone software.

Although Tomizone has the capability to make money, Simms likens it to software like MSN or Skype in that its potential will ultimately be governed by the amount of people that jump onboard.

He claimed Tomizone is already a step ahead of point to point wireless ISPs like iBurst and Unwired.

"Those guys are pretty much into single, portable wireless Internet for customers. There isn't any Wi-Fi hotspot that I can go and use seamlessly. It is very expensive to solely do a Wi-Fi business, that's why this ground-up approach is a lot better. We don't have to provide the network or the hotspot as the punters have already paid for it; what we are doing is giving them a fair and reasonable return for what they have already paid for without ripping off the people that will use the service," he said.

"It's just an authentication platform that knows how to take money off people and knows how to give money back to people."

Greg Bader, CTO of iiNet, says Tomizone hotspots will be up and running in Australia by November, with Perth first to go live.

"It costs iiNet subscribers nothing to use and they get 100MB of quota per month to use on the Wi-Fi network. We'll be reviewing that and if we can increase it we will. It's primarily designed for people checking email and surfing the Web so we don't envisage any heavy usage, but if customers want to use more than their quota they can top-up through Tomizone," said Bader.

iiNet will be taking the Tomizone model into small businesses and corporate environments in a bid to establish a network of hotspots across the country.

Bader hopes the incentive of free access to Tomizone hotspots will lure more customers to iiNet, enabling them to access the Internet seamlessly from just about anywhere.

"Our motivation basically came from feedback from our customers. iiNet customers move around a bit and want to be able to get onto the Net when they are travelling, so we are looking to put up some of our own company hotspots in major metropolitan areas over the coming months."

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