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Cometa Networks gains new CEO

The start-up company names a permanent chief executive as it looks to continue the expansion of hot spots nationwide.

Cometa Networks Tuesday named Gary Weis president and chief executive and moved interim CEO Larry Brilliant to a vice chairman role.

Brilliant, who co-founded the company, made the announcement at the PC Forum conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. The San Francisco-based start-up has received funding from heavyweights Intel, AT&T and IBM to help in the establishment of hot spots and the promotion of Wi-Fi technology.

Hot spots are areas where wireless Internet access is available to the public using Wi-Fi, a wireless networking technology based on the 802.11b, 802.11a and--by midyear--the 802.11g standards. Wi-Fi lets people access a network wirelessly and share resources on that network. Hot spot locations are expected to multiply dramatically by the end of the year.

Cometa is working to become a wholesale provider of Internet access to carriers and Internet service providers. Cometa introduced itself late last year, but had been somewhat vague on the details of its business model.

In late January, the company's chairman Theodore Schell said Cometa's business would germinate in the enterprise market where corporations could buy Wi-Fi use from their Internet providers as an additional feature. However, Schell stopped short of naming the company's partners or the number of access points it plans to set up.

Cometa declined to comment further on Tuesday.

The company has started forming relationships with partners, such as McDonald's and iPass, and it is working to set up hot spots throughout the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas.

When it launched, the company said it planned to set up 20,000 hot spots in the coming years.

"Demand for secure and reliable broadband wireless is exploding," Weis said in a release.

In his new role, Brilliant will chair Cometa's technical advisory board and advise the company on strategy.

Weis had worked at AT&T and IBM in various networking-related positions before joining Cometa.