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7/28/2009
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Verizon Offers Free Wi-Fi To Broadband Customers

Serviced by Boingo Wireless, free Wi-Fi service will be immediately available to existing Verizon FiOS Internet customers.

Verizon Communications is the latest telecommunications carrier to finally embrace Wi-Fi technology, and said it will provide free access in Wi-Fi hotspots to millions of its broadband customers.

Verizon's free Wi-Fi will be available immediately to broadband customers who have the most robust -- and expensive -- broadband service. The firm is providing the service through an agreement with Boingo Wireless, which has outfitted 100,000 hotspots worldwide with Wi-Fi.

"Our new free Wi-Fi hot spot connections are an ideal complement to our current netbook promotion that really enhances the value and functionality of the netbook," said Mike Ritter, chief marketing officer for Verizon Telecom, in a statement. "We're making it more enticing for customers to want to use Verizon broadband services by giving them the mobility tools they need to stay connected."

Verizon said the Wi-Fi service is free for existing FiOS Internet customers with up-to-20-Mbps or faster packages and some existing HIS users. New broadband customers who order more robust service will also qualify for the free Wi-Fi service.

Telecom carriers have been deploying Wi-Fi service in a piecemeal fashion that has been accelerating in recent months. Different carriers deliver the service in different ways. AT&T has been offering the service through a network of hotspots and Qwest Communications recently began offering Wi-Fi service at a network of locations including Barnes & Noble Bookstores, Starbucks, and McDonalds.

Cablevision Systems was an early provider, setting up a free sprawling hotspot network across New York's Long Island. When Cablevision debuted the system last year, it said it was "the nation's largest and most advanced consumer Wi-Fi network."

Although Verizon's mobile phone unit Verizon Wireless has been slow to adopt Wi-Fi for its handsets, Verizon Communications has offered Wi-Fi in its broadband routers and this spring began offering a dedicated mobile Wi-Fi hotspot called the MiFi 2200 starting at $39.99 a month.

Boingo said this week that it has renewed a platform service agreement with Verizon for four years. The deal is designed to enable Verizon to extend Boingo services to various Verizon units.

The adoption of Wi-Fi technology has had a checkered history including colossal failures by scores of large cities, which started municipal Wi-Fi networks with high hopes but dropped them when business plans failed. Wi-Fi, however, has proved resilient and has sprung up in millions of individual small hotspots.


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