was a wireless Internet service provider
which first gained notoriety in deploying Wi-Fi Internet access points in Starbucks
coffee shops and American Airlines
Admiral Club locations across the United States
. Founded by Greg Jackson and Mark Goode in 1998, MobileStar was the first wireless ISP to place a WiFi hotspot in an airport, a hotel, or a coffee shop. MobileStar's core value proposition was to provide wireless broadband connectivity for the business traveler in all the places he was likely to "sleep, eat, move, or meet." MobileStar's initial deployments used a frequency hopping product supplied by Proxim. However, after the IEEE 802.11b standard was adopted, MobileStar converted its network infrastructure to the 802.11b industry standard. MobileStar's founders faced many challenges in developing the company: evolving technology standards, fluid business models, no industry standard billing system, and questions about the competitive value of a site license agreement instead of licensed spectrum. Over time each of these issues were addressed and the agreement with Starbucks in early 2001 signaled a maturing of the marketplace.
MobileStar's demise was the result of at least two important factors: the collapse in the private equity markets in mid-2001 and the events of September 11th. While MobileStar's investors provided a bridge loan during the mid-2001 time frame, the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington brought a steep decline in business travel, MobileStar's core market. MobileStar's investors could not continue to finance the business and new investors were skittish about investing in a company focused on serving a market that had recently and rapidly collapsed.
It ceased operation in October 2001, but its bankrupt assets and contracts were bought by Voicestream Wireless and by February 2002, was operating as T-Mobile Broadband. T-Mobile Broadband was the first part of VoiceStream to rebrand to the T-Mobile name. It was official launched as T-Mobile HotSpot in August 2002.