I was invited to the BMW showroom in Westminster on Wednesday evening, where BT and BMW had an announcement to make. After being dragged away from the second hand Z8 in the showroom ( I know it's dynamically flawed, but I still think it’s a beautiful looking vehicle), I sat down and listened to the presentation.
With a peculiar sense of déjà vu, BT’s CEO for Wireless Broadband, Chris Clark announced that the BMW dealerships and service centres in London would be offering BT Openzone WiFi access to their customers. The reason for the déjà vu, is that the fist time I met Chris Clark he was telling me how he had addressed my issues with WiFi roaming detailed in my Working in a Wireless Wonderland column written last year; now Chris was talking about being able to get connected while waiting for your car to be serviced – something that I complained about in the first paragraph of the same column.
Chris Clark - BT CEO for Wireless Broadband
But I digress, the deal between BT and BMW means that anyone who drops their car in for a service will be able to get connected via BT Openzone and make good use of their time while they wait. This ties in nicely with BMW London's new Fast Track service centres, where most routine services can be carried out in under 60 minutes. So now, as well as settling down with a cup of coffee, BMW can offer its customers a way to stay productive and avoid “dead time”.
Andrew Day, Head of Marketing for BMW London stated “We pride ourselves on a very high standard of customer service and the introduction of BT Openzone in our dealerships enables us to stay at the forefront of the motor industry.”
Andrew Day - Head of Marketing BMW London
Chris Clark was keen to talk about the shift that BT has seen with WiFi adoption away from early adopters. With broadband rolling out into more and more homes, consumers are getting used to the idea of having wireless connectivity at home, while workers are becoming accustomed to using WiFi in the office. The result is that the adoption of services like BT Openzone is rising significantly, although Chris was still unwilling to cite exact numbers.
What Chris was willing to tell me was that the split between pre-pay voucher customers, and account customers is around 50/50 now, whereas previously the majority of users were pre-pay. This indicates that BT Openzone is becoming a regular business tool for many users, rather than an ad hoc solution.
So now I know, once I’ve won the lottery, I’ll be able to check my email after spending £61,000 on the new V10 M5 – well, I can dream about it at least.