BT’s wireless hotspot network has reached an impressive 2 million WiFi hotspots, making it the largest of it’s kind in the UK.
With the demand for wireless internet access growing at a very fast rate due to the popularity of devices such as smartphones, laptops, iPods and e-readers it has helped spur BT on to extend their wireless network. In the last 6 months alone they have added more than 780,000 hotspots.
BT Total Broadband customers are able to access this wireless network unlimited and for free as part of their broadband package.
The whole wireless network is made up with BT FON customers and BT Openzone. Many well known brands across the UK offer the access at their premises, such as Hilton Hotels, Starbucks and British Airways to name a few.
The breakdown of how the wireless network is made up is that there are around 1.95 million BT FON hotspots which are public hotspots that are sent by BT customers Home Hubs, 195,000 BT Business hubs and 3,900 BT Openzone hotspots at public locations such as hotels and coffee shops.
The Chief Executive of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson, said:
“Demand for wireless access is growing at a record rate, we’ve have added more than 780,000 hotspots in the last six months and will continue to meet the demand as more and more smart-phone, laptop, tablet, iPod and e-reader users choose WiFi to stay connected when they are out and about. What’s more our BT Total Broadband customers have free and unlimited access to the largest WiFi network in the UK included in their broadband package.“
BT Broadband customers are now able to have unlimited Wi-Fi acess at the 1.5 million available hotspots provided by BT around the country.
The unlimited access will be available to BT Total Broadband and O2 Mobile customers by accessing it on the BT Openzone and BT FON networks. BT FON is a Wi-Fi community where BT Broadband customers choose if they want to share their broadband connection with other BT FON members and in exchange they are able to securely access other BT-FON members broadband connections, it is basically one big Wi-Fi sharing community.
With the ever increasing requirement from users to access broadband away from the home through devices such as smartphones, iPad and laptops and with the recent announcement that O2 are going to withdraw the unlimited internet access that it offered with smartphones and instead set limits on how much data users can access to tie in with the launch of the new iPhone 4 which becomes available this Thursday 24th June the availability of more free Wi-Fi hotspots to use these devices will become a real bonus.
The BT Openzone Wi-Fi network is available in locations such as airports, city centers, coffee shops and hotels.
In total there are around 1.5 million hotspots across the country, with this figure havign increased by 800,000 during 2009 and expected tro rise to a total of 2.5 million by the end of 2011.
The number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK that BT operates is set to double to 1 million in the next 6 months despite it taking 7 years for BT to reach 500,000 hotspots.
With the demand for Internet available wherever we are due to more and more laptops and primarily smart phones such as the iPhone and Blackberrys. BT is looking to tap into this demand as social networking has meant that people are Facebooking and Twittering all day long to communicate with friends.
Dave Hughes who is BT’s Retail director told the Times newspaper
The real revolution is the handheld device. People are perfectly happy to get these devices out of their pockets in the street to update their social networking sites or check their emails, which isn’t the case with laptop
BT will look to add the extra Wi-Fi hotspots via it’s BT Openzone network, they already have Wi-Fi hotspots installed into Starbucks and Caffe Nero along with hotels such as the Hilton, Ramada Jarvis and Thistle hotels.
BT Broadband customers can access the hotspots for free and those who are not are still able to access the network at a cost of 0.5p per minute.
O2 Mobile broadband customers are now able to use BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots due to a deal done between O2 and BT Openzone.
Currently O2 mobile broadband customers have access to around 7,500 wi-fi hotspots and this deal will mean customers have around 3,000 more available to them which includes all Starbucks after BT Openzone beat T-Mobile to be their new Wi-Fi supplier.
For customers to receive these extra Wi-Fi hotspot locations will require them to upgrade their Connection Manager software which at the moment is only available to Microsoft Windows users.
The new Connection Manager will also have other features such as a data counter that will log how much data transfer users use so they can keep on track of where they are up to with their monthly data allowance and be sent reminders when they have used up 75%, 90% and 100% of their allocated data.
Existing O2 mobile broadband customers can make use of this now and new customers will receive access from the end of July.