Currently the mobile phone service provider O2 has been offering a Wi-Fi service via the Cloud and BT Openzone, but with the Cloud potentially being taken over by BSkyB, O2 are planning a Wi-Fi network of its own.
It looks as if the network will consist of around four hundred and fifty sites, but once the firm ties up with retailers, restaurants and other public places, they are looking to build the network very quickly.
Jeremy Green, a principal analyst with Ovum, the move is a “step in the right direction” to sorting out O2’s capacity issues, brought about by high iPhone ownership and the increasing desire for data on the move.
“450 sites is not fantastic coverage and Wi-Fi isn’t something that Smartphone users will be able to rely on but it is a gesture in the right direction,” he said.
It seems that O2 are planning a rival to BT Fon, but this service uses the limited bandwidth available on residential broadband connections, whereas O2’s network will be made up with premium hotspots located at busy public areas.
“Only 20% of people who have access to free public Wi-Fi on 02 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being Wi-Fi enabled,” said O2’s business development director Tim Sefton
“We know that Wi-Fi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where Wi-Fi is free and the variable quality of the current experience,” he added.