AT&T launched a free roaming program to nearly 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for qualifying broadband subscribers. According to AT&T, the hot spot network includes “…leading airports, McDonalds restaurants, Barnes & Noble bookstores, coffee shops and popular sporting venues.” Of course, the venerable Starbucks and its thousands of accompanying hot spot locations are not included. Starbucks is the domain of T-Mobile, who also recently launched their own hot spot initiative. In order to qualify for the free hot spot service, consumers and businesses must subscribe to certain AT&T broadband products.
Timing this announcement closely with the recently launched and fanaticized Wi-Fi capable iPhone is no mistake. In addition, AT&T announced that these same qualifying broadband subscribers can receive a free wireless Wi-Fi router for their home. Both maneuvers hope to encourage bundling of broadband and wireless service by existing and potential AT&T customers. And while you’re at it, why not take U-verse video and home phone service to boot. It is a shrewd bundling tactic. One that is somewhat difficult for cable MSOs to match. Not as difficult for Verizon Wireless and Sprint, but nevertheless, a nuisance that will need to be addressed.