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O2 Giving Away Free Wireless Access

David Gilbert by

O2 Giving Away Free Wireless Access

Wi-Fi access in the UK is complicated to say the least. With BT Openzone and The Cloud access can be hit-and-miss and when you do log on, you have to pay for it. Well O2 has now announced it is planning on challenging these two providers – and doing it all for free.

O2 has announced the creation of “seamless, fast and free internet for all” with a network of premium Wi-Fi hotspots set to double the amount currently available by BT and The Cloud combined. Initially O2 Wifi will be available when it replaces it existing 450 Cloud hotspots in its stores and offices. The plan is to then extend the coverage “through partnerships with strategic venues, to include shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations across the UK.”

Access to O2 Wifi will be free for O2 and non-O2 customers. O2 customers who own a Wi-Fi enabled device will be automatically signed up to the service by the end of the year with all others having to go through a signing-up process. While the service will be free, of course O2 and its partners will want something back in return, and every time you log on you will be greeted by a splash page with offers and advertising from O2 and its partners – be it a restaurant or shop. While this could get annoying, considering you are getting free access we are sure people won’t mind too much.

O2 is shying away from the route taken by BT, whereby it uses its own customers’ broadband service to create a huge wireless network around the country. Instead it says that all of its hotspots will be “premium public hotspots.” Virgin has indicated plans to roll out its own wireless network but again not using its home customers’ service.

“Only 20% of people who have access to free public Wi-Fi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being Wi-Fi enabled. We know that Wi-Fi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where Wi-Fi is free and the variable quality of the current experience,” said O2’s New Business Development Director Tim Sefton.

Source: O2

Go to comments


January 26, 2011, 4:28 pm

currently 02 let us use the cloud wifi service foc(found in a lot of mcdonalds) so this idea of setting up their own wifi hotspot network must be a reaction too bskyb announcing they want to buy the cloud good luck too them because if this helps to reduce the data load on the 3g network even better especially as the wifi connection tends to be more stable and faster and even better if its free as this will also make the recent move to data limits on 3g easier to bear ( im lucky as both my 02 contracts still have unlimited data) lets hope other free networks start appearing and this will help close some of the dead spots that exist.


January 26, 2011, 5:25 pm

Since we're so embarrassingly far behind other countries on the rollout of 4G (Doesn't that spectrum auction only begin in 2012?) we may as well support companies expanding free Wi-Fi hotspot access, because it seems to be the means of internet connection we're stuck with for the foreseeable future - even if it does mean a few more pop up ads and the like.


January 26, 2011, 8:20 pm

TBH, i'd much rather O2 were spending money on developing their WiFi and mobile networks for actual paying O2 customers rather than opening it up to anyone. Also, am I the only one who finds airport lobby and restaurant / coffee shop adhoc WiFi connections a PITA to use?

I recently tried to use a few in the States, Central America and Spain and they were a nightmare; they were slow and difficult to navigate the log on screens and it took ages to log me in (after I had tried many, many different log in usernames and passwords, as I always forget them all).

Then when I eventually did get online the download speeds were horrific, upload even worse and then I forgot that you can't navigate away from the log-in home page otherwise you have to start all over again loggin in! Just too painful a process.

We need MUCH more bandwidth, faster connections, more connections, and a much easier, long term & faster log in process. Perhaps linked to the MAC address of the gadget? Can't say that i'm too happy about the security of these networks either, but that's another story.

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