Travellers want to be able to roam with their internet connection in the same way as they do with their mobile phone. They want to deal with only one internet service provider, whether at home or abroad.
It is on these premises that public access gateway vendor Nomadix launched a service last October that aims to create a large, managed roaming footprint of public access internet service providers, which nomadic users can connect with.
The Nomadix Interconnect Service is currently only available in the U.S. and Europe, where it covers 15,000 hotspot locations, but Fred Reeder, Nomadix Asia-Pacific sales director, is busy laying the groundwork for the offering here.
Reeder, who is based in California, hosted roadshows in Auckland and Wellington with distributor Lan1 as part of a regional tour during which the service was a key topic.
ISPs or wireless hotspot operators who use Nomadix gateways can subscribe to Interconnect at no charge, creating a network of service providers around the world, Reeder says.
Subscribers of any of these service providers can roam on the connections of other Interconnect providers regardless of location, but will be billed by their home provider.
"You do not have to open an account with every mobile phone network you roam on, so why do it for your internet access?" asks Reeder.
The benefit to the service providers is that they receive revenues from their customers who use other Interconnect networks abroad and from visitors on their connection.
This is a good selling point for resellers of Nomadix hardware, says Reeder.
Lan1 general manager Liam Venter is very enthusiastic about the Interconnect Service.
He says as wireless hotspots proliferate, and with the rapid onset of new technologies such as WiMax and VoIP telephony, the future of a fully connected world with broadband is becoming a reality.
"This is the vision we are working towards. With a service like Interconnect, a WiMax connection and Skype, I can make international phone calls from anywhere without paying high-roaming call charges," he says.
WiMax and VoIP are the killer apps driving the market for public access internet, says Reeder.
Nomadix gateways are installed at several airports, including Christchurch, Sydney and Oslo, and in major hotel chains, but can also be used for wireless hotspots in cafes and city centres. Four different platforms are available, from an entry-level box that supports up to 100 users, to the new AG 5000 Metro gateway that caters for metropolitan-scale deployments.