UK network has announced plans to roll out ‘O2 Wi-fi’, a system of Wi-Fi hotspots located in retailers and public spaces around the UK – and they’ll be free for everyone. Huzzah!
Cor baby that’s really free
When they say ‘free’ they mean really free, so you won’t even have to be a O2 customer to bathe yourself in all that free hotspot goodness.
Just like the current system from BT Openzone and The Cloud, users will be able to hook up to any available Wi-Fi they come across, with the juicy bonus of it costing them absolutely nowt – they just have to sign up to the service and they’re ready to go.
Gavin Franks, MD of O2 Wifi explained all:
We’re going to transform the stagnant Wi-Fi market with O2 Wifi.
Demands on public Wi-Fi have changed drastically over the last three years; it’s no longer about getting your laptop out in a coffee shop for half an hour. Now people want to use it for five minutes in a shop to update their Facebook status instead.
Our main aim was to make it better than what’s already available; with consistent data speeds and a focus on usability. I genuinely believe it will transform the market and force The Cloud and BT Openzone to reassess their services.
Although the more cynical amongst you may be thinking that the free wi-fi is just a cunning ruse for O2 to lighten the ever growing burden on their data networks, Tim Sefton, O2’s New Business Development Director, was veritably exploding with denials:
Our network is in a really good position. We have no concerns about its capability to deliver the data capacity required by our customers.
Reducing strain on the network is a secondary benefit to the Wi-Fi network, and not a primary driver.
The O2 Wi-fi service will start rolling out in O2 retail stores in March, with commercial partners, including shops and fast food chains joining up in the second quarter of the year.
Apparently, users will be able to log on to the network “seamlessly” although any time you connect in a new venue you’ll be forced to endure a “splash screen” detailing offers provided by O2 and its partners.
It shouldn’t be too sluggish either, with O2 flicking two fingers to BT’s Fon network by saying that all their hotspots will be “premium public hotspots, as opposed to using residential connections with limited bandwidth.”