IPass service caters to handhelds

IPass Inc., the ISP that supplies local-dial Internet access worldwide, is adding a VPN service for handheld devices.

The service, called iPassConnect PDA, lets roaming users connect to corporate VPNs over secure Internet connections.

The service, announced at VPNCon this week requires a modem and two pieces of software on the PDA: a lightweight version of iPass' dialer software called iPass Sync and VPN software from Certicom called movianVPN that is made for handhelds (VPN software aims to safeguard handheld devices).

Users then dial in to an iPass-affiliated ISP that is in the local calling area. They access the corporate VPN server, authenticate using name and password and the movianVPN client sets up a secure tunnel to the VPN.

The VPN capability was a must for the service, iPass Chairman and CEO Michael Mansouri says. "Enterprises want to insure the integrity of their security."

When wireless access to ISPs is more widespread, that will be added as an option, he says.

Users can store phone numbers on their handhelds for the iPass points of presence they are likely to call during any given period by downloading them from iPass' directory database. Palm OS devices can store up to 500 numbers; Pocket PC/Windows-powered devices can store 1,000.

To distribute the PDA dialer, IT administrators send e-mails to each end user containing an executable file that contains the dialer. The end user then installs it.

The service supports handhelds made by Palm, Handspring and IBM as well as Pocket PC/Windows-powered mobile devices from Compaq, Casio and Hewlett Packard.

IPassConnect PDA is available now and costs US$0.04 per minute in the US; $0.08 to $0.12 per minute in Europe and $0.12 to $0.22 per minute in the Mideast, Africa and Asia, the company says.

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