Verizon Wi-FiBe it via laptop, notebook, netbook, PDA, smartphone or other hand-held device, Verizon–along with its competitors– wants you to connect to the Internet via their (or their partner’s in some Wi-Fi cases) network infrastructure.

Yesterday the company announced that in addition to accessing the Internet via its 3G cellular network, Mobile Broadband customers can now do so at no extra charge via thousands of Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots stretching across the U.S., as well as into Mexico and Canada.

There are some catches though. The offer only applies to Windows based PCs, not MacBooks or smartphones using Wi-Fi.

Those looking to take advantage of Verizon Wi-Fi connectivity need to have a monthly Mobile Broadband or GlobalAccess plan, a Verizon Wi-Fi-supported device and VZAccess Manager v. 7.2 or higher installed on their PC.

The move illustartes the growing importance of Wi-Fi as both a competitive necessity and as a means to offload capacity from 3G networks. All major wireless carriers now offer some form of free Wi-Fi (with the exception of maybe Sprint ?) for subscribers with qualifying plans.

Verizon has extra incentive to step up their Wi-Fi game. Cablevision has used Wi-Fi access quite effectively against Verizon in the New York metro area.

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