SBC, Wayport sign hot spot deal

The telecommunications giant becomes the latest major company to ink an agreement that will let its customers use Wayport's 650 Wi-Fi hot spots across the nation.

CNET News staff
2 min read
SBC Communications has signed a deal with wireless Internet provider Wayport to let its customers access Wi-Fi hot spots across the nation.

Austin, Texas-based Wayport is a provider of wireless Internet service using the 802.11b standard, known as Wi-Fi. It has hot spots at about 650 locations in hotels, airports and McDonald's franchises.

The hot spot provider said the roaming agreement will drive a substantial amount of SBC customers to Wayport partner locations across the country, driving revenue at the sites through increased occupancy, food and beverage sales. SBC, in turn, will be able to broaden its reach in the growing industry of public-space Wi-Fi.

SBC said its new service, dubbed FreedomLink, will be available by the end of 2006 in more than 6,000 hotels, airports, convention centers and other venues throughout the 13 states it serves. SBC will pursue roaming agreements with other Wi-Fi service providers besides Wayport, the company said.

U.S. telecommunications companies are entering deals with Wi-Fi providers to allow their customers to access services at thousands of hot spots across the nation. Wayport also has Wi-Fi roaming agreements with AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS, MCI, iPass, GRIC Communications and Boingo. On Tuesday it announced a similar agreement with Verizon Wireless.

SBC said the agreement will augment its own Wi-Fi implementation already under way.

"Our goal is to provide SBC customers with a consistent broadband experience at home, the office and on the road, and the agreement with Wayport will provide SBC customers with a greater opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi when they're on the road," Brooks McCorcle, vice president if SBC Wi-Fi, said in a statement.

SBC said it will market a service that combines Wi-Fi service with 3G wireless data services, via its relationship with Cingular Wireless, a joint venture of SBC and BellSouth. The service will allow subscribers to move among their home or office SBC broadband service, SBC FreedomLink Wi-Fi hot spots and Cingular's network.