Mobile

MobileStar network back on

The wireless service provider for about 500 Starbucks and dozens of hotels is returning to "business as usual" about a month after shutting down.

MobileStar, the wireless service provider for about 500 Starbucks cafes and dozens of hotels, is back in business about a month after it shut down.

"MobileStar has returned to business as usual," the Richardson, Texas-based company said in e-mails it began sending to customers earlier this week.

The network was shut off around Oct. 9, after the company laid off nearly all its employees and hired San Francisco Bay Area-based Diablo Management Group (DMG) to sell its assets.

"We're back on," DMG Vice President Richard Couch said Friday. "We were only temporarily interrupted." Couch had no further comment on how the company was able to relaunch.

Before shutting down due to economic problems, Mobilestar had tried to raise cash for at least six months, according to original investors.

"Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced over the past few weeks," read the e-mails sent from MobileStar Customer Support. "We do expect to return to a 24-hour, 7-day operating schedule and continue to add new...locations."

MobileStar used a wireless technology known as 802.11, a wireless protocol that allows people to connect their computers and laptops so they can share the same Net connection. Customers could get Internet access in public areas such as airports or business areas of cities like Dallas, near the company's Richardson, Texas, headquarters.

The MobileStar service cost about $30 a month to use. It was available in the Seattle-Tacoma area, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and in much of Texas. The company was also hoping to launch service in Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and the Washington, D.C., Metro Area.

The company sold its gear to 19 different hotel chains, where consumers could get Internet access in lobbies and rooms. Hilton Hotels used MobileStar to service about 50 of their locations.

MobileStar's largest customer was Starbucks, which planned to install the wireless Internet system in more than 3,000 of its locations. It would be free to use for those with MobileStar subscriptions.

Starbucks was also working with Microsoft on the project. Compaq Computer was to provide access devices such as iPaq Pocket PCs for customers to use while in the stores.

Representatives for Microsoft and Compaq did not immediately return calls for comment.