visitor-based networking (VBN)

Visitor-based networking (VBN) is the provision of high-speed Internet access for mobile PC users in need of temporary service in public places.

Visitor-based networking (VBN) is the provision of high-speed Internet access for mobile PC users in need of temporary service in public places. A visitor-based network is most commonly established in a hotel, airport, convention center, press area, mall, university, sales center, or corporate meeting room. For years, mobile users were limited to analog dial-up connections through a PBX system or other proprietary network. Visitor-based networking goes a step further in creating a more efficient and effective work environment for them. It aims to give the on-the-go worker a productive way to temporarily connect PCs to local LANs and broadband Internet connections.

A visitor-based network usually includes hardware (such as servers, hubs, and routers), telecommunications (an Internet connection), software (a browser), and service (telephone support). Virtually any Internet-based Ethernet LAN can become a visitor-based network by adding a server. The server provides the necessary layer of management between public users and the gateway router to enable a seamless connection for visitors. A successful visitor-based network usually also features additional services like printing and customer support. Many ISPs are building broadband access networks in public places to enable more efficient visitor-based networks.

Technology vendors have developed ways to package their network offerings with billing and management applications that make offering temporary Internet access more than just a convenience, but also a viable business. The key commercial player in the visitor-based networking arena is 3Com; smaller vendors include Elastic Networks and Tut Systems. IT analyst Gartner Group projects the remote Internet access market will hit $31 billion by 2003. It also forecasts that by 2005 half of all remote business users will have remote access connections that are faster than analog modems.

This was first published in September 2005

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