IPass has released a software client for RIM's BlackBerry smartphones, providing easier access for BlackBerry users to the huge number of worldwide Wi-Fi hotspots covered by iPass.
Available for download now, the iPassConnect client for BlackBerry provides single sign-on for nearly 140,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across 83 countries, and enables users to browse the web and access email while abroad without having to worry about roaming charges, according to iPass.
The company brings together access to numerous telecoms networks around the globe through its virtual network service, which simplifies communications provision for companies with mobile employees. Customers pay a single monthly fee per user for all-you-can-eat data access.
IPass already supports laptops and smartphones based on Symbian, Windows Mobile and Apple's iPhone, but the BlackBerry is the device of choice for enterprises, according to Matt Cooke, senior product marketing manager at iPass.
"The good thing about the BlackBerry is the level of management control. The IT guys can easily push the [iPass] client out to users, for example," he said.
The company had not produced a BlackBerry client before because few of RIM's handsets supported Wi-Fi, whereas now "just about every BlackBerry has it", Cooke said.
While iPass said that the move can help businesses cut roaming costs, this applies only to data access rather than voice calls, but Cooke said that there is nothing to stop customers using voice-over-IP while travelling abroad.
"If you're already an iPass customer, then it doesn't cost you anything extra as we charge a flat monthly fee for access," he explained.
iPassConnect for BlackBerry is available from the iPass web site now, and will be on BlackBerry App World within the next few weeks. The client is a free download, but users must have an iPass subscription.
The company is already looking to improve the user experience on the BlackBerry, and said that the iPass client will in future have deeper integration with the operating system so that users can see at a glance whether a Wi-Fi hotspot is available through iPass.
Cooke also said that the company is considering producing a client for Google's Android platform, and for Linux-based devices such as Nokia's recently announced N900 internet tablet.
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