Qwest Offers Free Wi-Fi To Broadband Customers

The carrier is piggybacking on AT&T's Wi-Fi service, which offers access at Barnes & Noble bookstores and McDonald's and Starbucks locations.
Once loathed by telecommunications carriers, Wi-Fi increasingly is being embraced by them as a way to retain customers. In the latest example of the trend, Qwest Communications International Thursday began offering free Wi-Fi access to its broadband customers at 17,000 nationwide locations.

Qwest is piggybacking on AT&T's Wi-Fi service, which offers access to the popular wireless service at Barnes & Noble bookstores and McDonald's and Starbucks locations.

The carrier inaugurated the service after a survey commissioned by the company found that Qwest Internet users have come to expect Internet access "wherever they are," said Qwest's Dan Yost. "In fact, our study showed that nearly half of all respondents get 'antsy' in about an hour if they can't check e-mail, social networking sites, or instant messaging."

Yost, who is executive VP of the Denver-based company's Mass Markets Organization, said Qwest Internet customers are automatically eligible for the Wi-Fi service.

AT&T began offering free unlimited Wi-Fi service to its broadband subscribers early last year. Before that, the most-used Wi-Fi service offered by a carrier was T-Mobile's service in Starbucks locations, but that service was considered expensive.

The most aggressive Wi-Fi service offered by a carrier is Cablevision Systems' Optimum Wi-Fi offering. The company has been deploying Wi-Fi access points at public locations throughout its service area in Long Island, sections of metropolitan New York City, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Cablevision bills the service as the "nation's largest and most advanced consumer Wi-Fi network."

Verizon Communications is still a holdout, although it's said to be considering a deal with Wi-Fi service provider Boingo to offer Wi-Fi to its customers.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the use of business software on smartphones. Download the report here (registration required).

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