10 March 2008

Road Warriors of the world unite… Roaming is getting “Free”er.

This is from jiwire (www.jiwire.com) an excellent resource for road warrior types. (Your blogger included). AT&T has captured Starbucks. But with a twist as this entry tells it, the game is now possible to provide for free. This is good news. Lets hope it works out. Even as a non-coffee (although I live mostly in Seattle) drinker, this is a good.

AT&T Takes Starbucks & Boingo Does McDonald's
Finding a "free" Wi-Fi hotspot in the US just got a whole lot easier, now that AT&T is taking over the Starbucks contract formerly held by T-Mobile. The reason is simple: the 12 million AT&T DSL and U-verse customers with at least 1.5Mbps service will now get free access at all 17,000 U.S. AT&T Wi-Fi locations, including the 7,000 Starbucks stores. In addition, any customer with a Starbucks stored-value card used at least once a month gets a free two hours per day -- money they're likely to be spending anyway. Starbucks is the crown jewel of U.S. Wi-Fi properties, and making access available to so many customers for free is a huge deal. We expect many Wi-Fi mavens to flee Comcast for AT&T broadband as a result. The handover has already started, and will be completed market-by-market by the end of the year. But T-Mobile Hotspot subscribers will not be left out in the cold -- they can continue to roam at Starbucks for at least the next five years.
Meanwhile, Boingo, the biggest Wi-Fi roaming network with 100,000 locations worldwide, has not been standing idly by. It just announced an agreement with Wayport to bring more than 9,000 North American McDonald's locations under the Boingo umbrella. And since Boingo already had a contract with AT&T, it gained all those Starbucks locations too. Now both Boingo and iPass offer access to the combined Starbucks-McDonald's juggernaut, to go with their excellent overseas and travel-oriented hotspot networks. In one heady week, the U.S. Wi-Fi scene has gone from frustratingly fragmented to near-free and friendly.


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