BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Technology  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 08:56 GMT
Wireless broadband spreads its wings
Man using on of BT's wireless hotspots
It is now possible to log on in hotel lobbies
BT is forging ahead with its plans for wireless broadband access, pitting the technology against third generation mobile networks.

It has announced deals with Hilton Hotels, the BAA and Welcome Break which will extend the number of wireless hotspots available to users.

A total of 27 new sites will be opened at Welcome Break service stations, while 36 Hilton hotels will offer hotspots in their lobbies. Business travellers will also be able to log on at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Aberdeen airports.

BT plans to have 400 wireless hotspots up and running in hotels, airports and motorway service stations around the UK by the summer.

"Wi-Fi is expected to be half the price and three times the speed of 3G and at the moment is one-tenth the price and four times the speed," said David Hughes, BT's Director of Mobility.

Bandwidth demands

Wi-Fi hotspots - which allow people to go online on their laptops or mobile devices via radio waves within a certain area - are growing in popularity.

BT's service has so far attracted 1,000 business customers in around 45 corporations, including the BBC, Intel, Microsoft and Lloyds TSB.

But it is not cheap. A monthly fee for unlimited access costs 85, with 24 hours access costing 15.

BT is currently offering a 50% discount on all the services until March 2003.

"There is demand for more and more bandwidth and broadband and Wi-Fi are the technologies that are really able to deal with these demands," said Mr Hughes.

BT is hoping to make 30m from its Wi-Fi services by 2004.

Downloading music

Wireless technology will be key in delivering broadband to rural areas

Stephen Timms, e-commerce minister
In the future BT envisages thousands of hotspots peppered across the UK, with private wireless networks integrated with public ones.

One popular service could be providing Wi-Fi access on trains, a service which is already being offered in Japan.

At the moment Wi-Fi is targeted at business customers but in the future could become a consumer product said Mr Hughes.

"When phones become game machines or video players, then consumers might go into town on a Saturday morning and download and buy video or music via a Wi-Fi device," he said.

Cheap licenses

Companies wishing to get their hands on a wireless broadband licence can do so for a fraction of the price charged for third generation radio frequencies.

The government has announced it is auctioning off another piece of the wireless spectrum - the frequencies that can carry data - and prices are expected to start at 100,000.

15 regional licenses will be available in all, covering London, the Midlands and the North of England.

"Broadband UK is surging ahead and wireless technology will be key in delivering broadband to rural areas," said e-commerce Minister Stephen Timms.

See also:

27 Jan 03 | Technology
21 Jan 03 | Technology
31 Dec 02 | Technology
24 Nov 02 | Technology
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Technology stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Technology stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes