As a global provider of high-speed Internet access and services for the hospitality, commercial office, and other building-centric markets, STSN offers plug-and-play Internet connectivity at speeds up to 300 times faster than traditional dial-up.
It's no surprise that high-speed hotels are high on the wish list for traveling executives--hotels that provide fast, secure plug-and-play access to e-mail and the net. "Today, 65 percent of the business travelers out there are carrying their $3000 machines around. Why? They need to get online to get their e-mail from behind the corporate firewall," says Will West, CEO of STSN (a leading broadband services provider).
Yet there's just one catch, claims West-- most hotels were not made for the Internet age, falling woefully short from a technology standpoint since many of these buildings were built forty to eighty years ago--and they were certainly not wired with 100 megabit connectivity in mind."
In most cases, hotels have drop ceilings and are basically big cement structures, says West, "So you have an awful infrastructure and the most challenging customer base imaginable--in the form of continuously changing tenants." For this reason, it's tough for most hotels to easily morph into the high-speed hotel today's business travelers seek. For the same reason, the hotel room represents a great business opportunity, says West, so great that STSN was launched on this hunch in 1998.
STSN has solved this problem by utilizing the existing infrastructure of the hotel, running data over the phone line, without any voice interference. To the hotel, this means no re-wiring and minimal disruption to install the system. To the hotel's guest, it means a smooth and fast Internet connection without tying up the phone line.
Offering secure, plug-and-play high-speed connectivity
STSN technology enables the user to "plug-and-play" -- that is, to connect to the net without reconfiguring computer settings. And STSN takes it one step further, as West explains "We make that plug-and-play experience possible, including successfully handling corporate VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). It's really kind of tricky to do that. There are so many different settings users can have on their laptops for their corporate firewalls that have to be accommodated. Our technology is so smart, the VPN still works."
Not only has STSN made connecting, at high-speed, simple for the user, they also deliver a completely private connection. The STSN system is unique from other solutions in that each user's connection is protected by firewalls at multiple levels including built-in room-to-room security. Marriott International selected STSN as their technology provider in 1999, after researching the leading high-speed solutions.
Today, STSN's plug-and-play devices sit on the desks of hotel rooms all over the world, says West. "Right now we have approximately 100,000 rooms installed in hotels including the Marriott, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton, and Mandarin Oriental brand names--to name just a few."
Building-centric solutions for vertical markets
STSN, at the broadest level, is best described as a building-centric broadband service provider, says West. "Specifically we bring data lines into a building, then distribute them throughout it in a very efficient manner so that the tenants of that building receive all the advantages of high-speed services in the most efficient way."
"Having developed this product for a market where the tenants change every single day--and where you've got people whose computers have network settings from 500 different companies is a technical feat," says West. With this learning curve conquered, West says the STSN team can cut and paste its proven technology into many building-centric markets--from commercial offices and large multiple dwellings to campuses and airports.
Intel Capital Invests In STSN
The Intel Capital team was interested in STSN from the start, since Internet infrastructure support for mobile notebook users is one of its key investment areas. After meeting with the STSN team, Intel Capital saw that STSN was a company with a plug-and-play solution that would give notebook users easy high-speed Internet connectivity, without their having to do any software installation.
"As a part of the due diligence investigation, a team of Intel engineers came to one of our hotels and crash-tested our product with multiple packages--and they all worked. They were delighted," says West. Intel Capital invested in STSN in December 1999 and made a follow-on investment in Spring, 2000.
A relationship based on teamwork
West says that STSN has benefited from the technology and industry insights Intel Capital has provided as his company moves into new market segments. In particular, West says he has enjoyed a great relationship with Intel Capital's board observer. "He comes to our board meetings and provides us with very good insights and information at the board meetings. He also keeps me uniquely posted in what's going on in the industry, and the ways in which Intel technologies might help us in what we're doing."
In addition, Intel Capital's industry-related and internal Intel contacts have been useful, says West. "Intel Capital has many contacts and works in so many different fields, that we get a better understanding of who the players are and who we might want to contact or potentially partner with, through their insights," says West.
Intel also benefits from STSN's experience, says West, "We're out there in a market segment that is breaking new ground in high-speed services--where we explore the viability of that market segment. With Intel, we also explore the best channels to get into it together."
"For us, the Intel Capital investment has been outstanding, particularly because of the interaction and the experience of having such an intelligent, industry-savvy partner. It (the investment) sort of defines smart money. Smart money comes to the table with its dollars, then it makes those dollars work more by helping you improve your business in other ways. On all levels, it's been a great relationship�"
AT A GLANCE...
Salt Lake City, Utah
For more information, contact Intel Capital.
Last updated: September 2000
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