Vodafone and iPass fall out over remote access

Following the launch of Vodafone Secure Remote Access, the two companies have rival products. But they disagree on the merits of their respective technologies

Telecoms giant Vodafone has criticised remote access company iPass, claiming that the iPass client is inferior to its own in terms of billing and the integration of 3G services.

Vodafone's comments follow the announcement of a product called Vodafone Secure Remote Access, which the company claims will deliver secure Wi-Fi, WiMAX and 3G connectivity. iPass currently offers similar services.

"iPass and BT Express do not completely integrate 3G services from a technology and billing perspective," said Alec Howard, Vodafone UK's head of enterprise data connectivity. "You're paying x amount of money effectively for a SIM service. People using 3G want more. You've got to bring costs down, and a single supplier can provide all [mobile services] — we are unique in that position."

René Hendrikse, European managing director for iPass, said Vodafone's criticism was recognition of iPass's status. "Overall we take it as a compliment," he said. "Vodafone obviously sees us as a leader in this space. We don't agree with their statements — we've supported 3G cards and mobile data for some years now."

Hendrikse said that iPass offered an integrated billing system which managers could use to track how, where and when employees had been using remote mobile devices.

Vodafone also criticised iPass's technology. It claimed that Vodafone's Secure Remote Access could integrate with a company's existing security and legacy systems because it's based on an open platform. "Because we use an open platform by Fiberlink, we can deploy the remote access clients flexibly, including in legacy systems. With iPass you can't do that to the same degree."

iPass said that its remote access client software could integrate with all of the leading VPN, personal firewall and antivirus products, and said that if customers want to use their own VPN, iPass could integrate. "Of course we're open to that extent — we have a special department for customer engineering," said Hendrikse. "But most large enterprises are standardising on the really big names."

Hendrikse said that although the iPass platform was its own intellectual property, it has been developed in a way that could "easily integrate with other software vendors". Hendrikse added that it was "interesting to see Vodafone moving in this direction," and that the companies could have had a partnership. Hendrikse would not discuss whether iPass and Vodafone had any future partnership plans.