updated 10:25 am EST, Wed January 26, 2011
O2 to bring out 13,000 free hotspots in the UK
UK wireless provider O2 on Wednesday said it will launch a nationwide Wi-Fi network. The premium hotspots will be managed with the help of venue owners and be open for all customers to use for free, no matter what network they subscribe to. By 2013, 13,000 hotspots will be in place, O2 promises, but the rollout will begin this March at 450 O2 shops and offices.
The remaining hotspots will be installed at shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations. Those who log on, with only one sign-in required that's remembered from that point on, will have access to the mobile payment service O2 Money. It should be partly supported by the targeted mobile ad engine O2 Media. O2 users will get an automatic sign-in.
O2 claimed only 20 percent of its current customers who have access to Wi-Fi networks as part of their plans use them. It believed this was due to the complex method of activation, the uncertainty of where Wi-Fi is available and the questionable quality of the current offerings. Critics have already suspected that the extension may be to offset congestion on its 3G network from iPhones and other smartphones.