AT&T Sees Surge In Wi-Fi Connections

The number of Wi-Fi connections more than tripled for the first quarter of 2009 thanks to devices like the iPhone 3G and AT&T taking over Starbucks hotspots.
Thanks to the popularity of devices like Apple's iPhone 3G and the BlackBerry Bold, AT&T has seen a surge in the number of Wi-Fi users and connections.

The company said it had 10.5 million Wi-Fi connections in the first quarter of 2009, which is more than triple the 3.4 million connections it had for the same period last year. The company has seen an uptick in Wi-Fi usage because it gives free Wi-Fi access to customers with iPhones and some BlackBerrys, AT&T high-speed Internet plans, as well as 3G LaptopConnect plans.

"Our customers are showing us that they value both speed and mobility in their broadband connections," said Angie Wiskocil, AT&T's senior VP of Wi-Fi services, in a statement. "As the leading U.S. provider of wired broadband services, with the fastest 3G network and the largest Wi-Fi network, AT&T can deliver a better experience for our customers where they live and work."

Starbucks also played a big role in the increased number of Wi-Fi users, as AT&T began taking over the coffee chain's wireless hotspots thanks to the $275 million purchase of Wayport. The acquisition expanded AT&T's Wi-Fi footprint to nearly 20,000 wireless hotspots in locations like Four Seasons hotels, McDonald's restaurants, and Sun Healthcare facilities.

While the hotspots primarily have been a consumer play, AT&T is well positioned to go after the enterprise market as well. The Wayport acquisition also gave AT&T a strong infrastructure to offer end-to-end Wi-Fi management, including the ability to actively support key enterprise applications on the go.

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