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Hotspot in a box

BT pushes wireless broadband bundle

Telco giant BT has announced a series of initiatives aimed at extending the takeup of its wireless broadband services.

The first, its home user deal, will provide those purchasing an ADSL broadband connection with a wireless modem and a six-month subscription to the BT Openzone network worth £60. Little detail has been given about the bundle other than that it will go on sale this September through Carphone Warehouse stores and is aimed at the mobile professional. No pricing details have yet been released.

Its second initiative is a wireless starter kit, dubbed 'hotspot in a box', aimed at SMEs (small to medium-sized businesses). The idea is to allow companies to set up their own Wi-Fi networks for around £400 — a fraction of the cost of the usual price of a WLAN network.

But unlike the successful broadband plug and play self-starter kits, the hotspot isn't a DIY affair so companies will still need a BT engineer to set it up. The technology will be supplied by electrical giant Toshiba.

Hotspots are already available throughout many airports, shopping centres and other public places. BT already has partnerships with hotel chain Hilton and coffee shop giant Costa Coffee and envisions the starter kit will extend this coverage to small hotels, bookshops and golf clubs.

The company also announced a partnership with Cisco to develop guest hotspots for use in office buildings.

BT is well on its way to reaching its target of 4,000 hotspots a year earlier than the promised 2005 delivery date. Such proactivity has no doubt been spurred on by the popularity of Wi-Fi — the company has recorded a 20 percent surge in usage figures over the past two months.

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