Wi-Fi roaming

UK business travellers will soon be able to get BT’s Openzone wireless broadband on both sides of the Atlantic, following a deal between the company and Airpath Wireless.

BT Openzone allows users to access the Internet and connect to corporate networks while working away from the office. Users with a laptop and a Wireless LAN access card and software can access data at speeds of up to 500 kbps. The only requirement is that they need to be within range of an Openzone site (approximately 100 metres).

Airpath, a manager of wireless networks in the US, has already secured 1,500 Wi-Fi access points across the US, a figure it expects to rise to 4,600 in the next 12 months. BT Openzone customers will initially be able to log on to 350 of these access points in the US from September.

The Airpath network is made up of locations created by different ISPs which rely on Airpath to manage all aspects of their customer billing, as well as strike roaming agreements with other operators. The two-way agreement also means US visitors who are customers of any of the ISPs in the Airpath network can now use BT Openzone sites when in the UK.

The new roaming agreement adds to BT’s existing deal with TeliaSonera, a European Wi-Fi operator. BT Openzone subscribers can use any of TeliaSonera’s network of more than 660 ‘HomeRun’ points in Scandinavia, France, Belgium, US, Thailand and London.

In May, Pierre Danon, chief executive officer of BT Retail, announced that BT’s progress in delivering the Wi-Fi network had meant its target to reach 4,000 BT Openzone sites by summer 2005 had been brought forward to summer 2004.

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