Sprint and SBC Communications Inc. today announced a reciprocal Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) Internet service roaming agreement that will provide their customers access to each other’s public Wi-Fi networks.
Under the agreement, customers will be able to roam on the Wi-Fi networks of each company using their existing user ID’s and passwords. Service charges will be billed according to the customers’ current billing agreements. Sprint-owned Wi-Fi locations include the Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Louisville International airports; the Addison, Tex., convention center; and the Tysons Corner, Va. shopping center. The SBC FreedomLink Wi-Fi network encompasses more than 2,300 hot spots nationwide including airports, hotels, coffee shops and The UPS Store(TM) and MailBoxes Etc.Â® locations. The parties expect to complete integration efforts and enable roaming at the respective venues as soon as possible.
The roaming agreement with SBC Internet Services (SBCIS) signals industry cooperation vital to increasing Wi-Fi service ubiquity for users seeking Internet connectivity, access to corporate networks or e-mail access via Wi-Fi enabled laptops or PDAs. This is the second major service provider roaming contract signed by Sprint, which earlier reached agreement with AT&T Wireless regarding reciprocal airport property Wi-Fi access.
â€œCustomers desiring consistent service and the convenience of a single account will reap the productivity benefits of Sprint PCS Wi-Fi Access at additional locations,â€ explained Wes Dittmer, general manager â€“ WLAN Services, Sprint. â€œWi-Fi is an integral part of Sprint’s remote-access strategy, and we are fostering customer productivity by providing multimegabit wireless data speeds at an ever-growing list of venues that are frequented by mobile workers.â€
â€œSprint customers will benefit from access to one of the nation’s largest Wi-Fi networks with SBC FreedomLink, driving increased usage to our network and enhancing revenue opportunities for SBC,â€ said Dennis Whiteside, assistant vice president, SBC Wi-Fi implementation.
â€œRoaming is crucial to the Wi-Fi customer experience and growth of the Wi-Fi service marketplace,â€ explained Roberta Wiggins of The Yankee Group. â€œCarrier cooperation should be the catalyst for wider adoption and increased convenience for the user.â€
Sprint is focusing on providing Wi-Fi services in high-traffic areas such as airports, hotels, convention centers and other public venues where customers tend to need it most and can derive the greatest benefit. The company has over 2,600 Wi-Fi hot spots where Sprint PCS Wi-Fi Access service is currently available chiefly through roaming agreements in effect across the United States and Canada with a number of industry players, including AT&T Wireless, AirPath, WayPort, STSN and TruckStop.net. Sprint is also pursuing other Wi-Fi opportunities beyond today’s announcement, representing a variety of locations that cater to both business and consumer audiences. Sprint will make at least 10,000 hot spots available to its customers by yearend.
The SBC FreedomLink service is part of an integrated effort to meet customer demand for a comparable broadband experience in the home, office or on the road. To meet this goal, SBC companies plan to make available more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots to FreedomLink customers by the end of 2006 and work with Cingular Wireless to use Wi-Fi and Cingular’s wireless network to deliver unprecedented coverage that enables customers to enjoy a comparable broadband experience at home, in the office and on the road. Customers can view a list of FreedomLink locations and obtain ordering information by visiting www.sbc.com/FreedomLink.
For information, a user guide and list of Wi-Fi ZONES compatible with Sprint service or to download Sprint PCS Connection Manager Software, visit http://www.sprint.com/business/products/categories/wifi.jsp.