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1/23/2008
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AT&T's Broadband Customers Get Unlimited Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi will be offered at more than 10,000 locations, such as airports, McDonald's restaurants, Barnes & Noble bookstores, coffee shops, and sporting venues.

AT&T on Wednesday said it will start offering its broadband subscribers free unlimited access to the company's Wi-Fi network.

With the growing popularity of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices, AT&T wanted to give its subscribers more options to access the Internet on the go, the carrier said. Free Wi-Fi will be offered at over 10,000 locations in the U.S., which include airports, McDonald's restaurants, Barnes & Noble bookstores, coffee shops, and sporting venues.

But it will only apply to new and existing customers that sign up for AT&T's broadband services, including AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet or FastAccess DSL, with downstream speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps, 3.0 Mbps, or 6.0 Mbps.

AT&T customers that have mobile phones with Wi-Fi technology also will have to subscribe to one of those services with downstream speeds of 1.5 Mbps or above to receive free Wi-Fi, an AT&T spokeswoman said. Simply having an iPhone with a standard AT&T data plan won't qualify, for example.

For new customers, AT&T will activate Wi-Fi connectivity when they sign up for a new broadband service and complete the setup and the registration process.

AT&T initially began offering free Wi-Fi access to its higher-speed broadband customers last year. Those customers had to have AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Pro, AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Elite, FastAccess Xtreme, or FastAccess Xtreme 6.0, to be eligible for the offer.

T-Mobile, the No. 4 cellular carrier in the U.S., has put up more than 8,000 Wi-Fi hot spots across the country that its subscribers can use. Unlike AT&T, T-Mobile doesn't have a wireline business and has been promoting its Wi-Fi network as an advantage over the other cellular carriers. T-Mobile also now offers a home-based Wi-Fi calling service that seamlessly switches subscribers back and forth between cell phone calls and calls made over Wi-Fi.

AT&T also said it will start providing a new broadband service called AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Max to its U-verse customers in February. With the service, subscribers will get downstream speeds of up to 10 Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps.

AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Max will cost $55 a month when bundled with U-verse TV, which is AT&T's suite of Internet Protocol-based products and services; they include U-verse TV and high-speed Internet access. Those subscribers also will qualify to receive free Wi-Fi access.

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