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AT&T, MCI and Sprint prepare for Wi-Fi to VPNs

Jun 23, 20032 mins
AT&TCellular NetworksInternet Service Providers

* IXCs to launch wireless VPN access support

AT&T, MCI and Sprint are gearing up to roll out wireless access to their managed IP VPN services, but user interest is still an unanswered question.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced plans to use Cometa’s access points, also called hot spots, to support wireless LAN access to its Internet services. The carrier says that next year it will begin to offer Wi-Fi access to its managed VPN offerings.

The carrier is rolling out Wi-Fi support to give traveling business users a wider variety of access options. But with Wi-Fi comes the question of security, which is probably why AT&T is holding off on VPN support.

MCI revealed last week that it too plans to offer Wi-Fi support, which will include Internet access and VPN access as the service rolls out in July.

MCI, formerly WorldCom, says customers would be able to use the same VPN client for Wi-Fi access as they would for dial-up or DSL access to their VPN. The client is based on Nortel’s Contivity software that supports IPSec encryption and tunneling. 

MCI is teaming with WayPort to support its WLAN access service. Customers will be able to access the Internet via 600 hot spots across the country.

While AT&T and MCI are going with Wi-Fi, Sprint plans to use its own Sprint PCS network to offer users wireless access to their VPNs.

The carrier says it will introduce a managed wireless VPN access service next month that will let users connect to their secure network from their laptops using a wireless modem.

Sprint is expected to formerly announce the service in July and says it will also be available at the same time.

It’s not clear at this point if wireless VPN access will be economical as none of the carriers have talked about pricing. It will be interesting to see how quickly these services catch on with corporate America.

It’s true that road warriors are always looking for easy, reliable network services to increase productivity while traveling. But I’m not so sure a vast number of network administrators will want hundreds or even thousands of users accessing their VPN using a wireless modem.

Would you allow users to access your VPN using Wi-Fi or a more traditional wireless network such as Sprint PCS? Drop us a line and let us know.