AT&T acquires Wayport's WiFi hotspots

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
AT&T has acquired WiFi provider Wayport for $275 million in cash, adding thousands of new wireless hotspots to the company's network that was recently opened to free access by iPhone users.



AT&T now boasts 20,000 access points in the US and 80,000 internationally, although that number also includes roaming locations run by partner networks. Wayport's network includes hotspots at McDonalds, Four Seasons hotels, HealthSouth, and Sun Healthcare locations.



The company's map of WiFi locations includes the new locations along with AT&T's existing hotspot networks at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble book stores, and many major airports across the country.



AT&T had been contracting with Wayport to run its existing WiFi network, but says the acquisition will enable it to expand its capabilities as it brings all management of WiFi infrastructure in house.



In addition to adding more WiFi hotspots to its network, AT&T has also committed to providing a tethering plan for iPhone users that would enable them to use their handsets as 3G network access points for their mobile computer. The company already offers a similar plan for its Blackberry subscribers.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Excellent. More free iPhone/Blackberry WiFi spots.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,596member
    I would be more impressed if they added cell towers. Especially at my house where the coverage is on the fringe of Edge.



    More bars in more places, just not this place.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    wobegonwobegon Posts: 764member
    Hmm, I wonder if AT&T now provides more WiFi access than 3G coverage (at least in the US). I just keep holding out hope for a move away from cell towers to WiFi for VOIP calls in the future.
  • Reply 4 of 8
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    Hmm, I wonder if AT&T now provides more WiFi access than 3G coverage (at least in the US).



    Absolutely not. You just aren't aware of the scale of coverage one tower can have and what one access point just can't. The range of a cell tower is measured in miles, whereas it's difficult to get WiFi to be useful beyond 100ft. Thousands of APs are needed to get the same land area coverage as a single cell tower.



    Quote:

    I just keep holding out hope for a move away from cell towers to WiFi for VOIP calls in the future.



    That's not far from holding out hope for a pet unicorn.



    Using WiFi to make a canopy is a bad idea. It's not designed for that and it's a very clumsy thing in action.



    I think there should be more competition, but WiFi just isn't competition to cellular technology. The only thing that might be close is WiMax, and that apparently has its own problems, taking twice as long to commercialize and roll out as proponents have claimed. The 700MHz spectrum might yield interesting results, but the incumbent telecom companies own that.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Absolutely not. You just aren't aware of the scale of coverage one tower can have and what one access point just can't. The range of a cell tower is measured in miles, whereas it's difficult to get WiFi to be useful beyond 100ft. Thousands of APs are needed to get the same land area coverage as a single cell tower.



    While you are correct about landmass coverage, wifi could never compete. However, AT & T's market penetration into markets is far greater with AT & T provided wi-fi hot spots than markets covered by 3G.



    3G does users a fat lot of good, if they are not in a metropolitan area serviced by 3G. The added an now free access to Wi-Fi hotspots are a nice compromise. Although a bit more cumbersome to access than they should be. With the tight integration of the device to the AT & T network, there should be a better way to grant 24 hours access to a hotspot.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Absolutely not. You just aren't aware of the scale of coverage one tower can have and what one access point just can't. The range of a cell tower is measured in miles, whereas it's difficult to get WiFi to be useful beyond 100ft. Thousands of APs are needed to get the same land area coverage as a single cell tower.



    No, I'm aware of the difference between what one WiFi hotspot can provide vs. what one cell tower can in terms of coverage. I wasn't arguing against that. I was making note of AT&T's spotty US 3G coverage and whether all these thousands of McDonalds, hotels, airports, Starbucks, and Barns & Nobel book stores providing WiFi access might actually provide more total coverage than 3G. I'm almost certain there are many areas with little or no 3G coverage that have a McDonalds or a Starbucks.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Using WiFi to make a canopy is a bad idea. It's not designed for that and it's a very clumsy thing in action.



    I think there should be more competition, but WiFi just isn't competition to cellular technology. The only thing that might be close is WiMax, and that apparently has its own problems, taking twice as long to commercialize and roll out as proponents have claimed. The 700MHz spectrum might yield interesting results, but the incumbent telecom companies own that.



    Yeah, there'd have to be thousands of little WiFi access points rather than big WiFi towers. And guess what...there already are. There are thousands (hundreds of thousands) of WiFi access points here in the US that aren't in a deal with AT&T, but provide access: universities, businesses, restaurants, and most notably, home WiFi networks. That last one makes up a ton of undocumented WiFi coverage.



    If Apple enabled a feature in their best-selling Airport base stations to allow a private, encrypted address for the user and a public address for public access to anyone walking by, perhaps requiring a microtransaction for a given amount of time or data usage (or make it free if that's legal), ubiquitous WiFi would suddenly no longer be such a far off dream. HERE is the article that this idea came from.



    Also, it's a bit silly to assume WiFi will continue to provide the same limited coverage it does now for the indefinite future. 802.11n already provides more coverage. As a bit of a homebody, I almost always have WiFi access and would prefer making VOIP calls for far less (or free if Apple ever makes a version of iChat for the iPhone or iPod touch) than pay what AT&T asks per month.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    No, I'm aware of the difference between what one WiFi hotspot can provide vs. what one cell tower can in terms of coverage. I wasn't arguing against that. I was making note of AT&T's spotty US 3G coverage and whether all these thousands of McDonalds, hotels, airports, Starbucks, and Barns & Nobel book stores providing WiFi access might actually provide more total coverage than 3G. I'm almost certain there are many areas with little or no 3G coverage that have a McDonalds or a Starbucks.



    Given how many the metro areas covered by 3G, I don't see how you can say that. Last time this sort of thing came up, I think I calculated that a city like NYC would need several million APs, I think it was one AP per individual there, evenly distributed. The problem is that placement of APs aren't evenly distributed to assure proper hand-off and coverage everywhere. On a highway trip, are you going to stop at every McDonald's to check and make calls? You'll need an AP every hundred feet or shorter.



    Quote:

    Yeah, there'd have to be thousands of little WiFi access points rather than big WiFi towers. And guess what...there already are. There are thousands (hundreds of thousands) of WiFi access points here in the US that aren't in a deal with AT&T, but provide access: universities, businesses, restaurants, and most notably, home WiFi networks. That last one makes up a ton of undocumented WiFi coverage.



    If Apple enabled a feature in their best-selling Airport base stations to allow a private, encrypted address for the user and a public address for public access to anyone walking by, perhaps requiring a microtransaction for a given amount of time or data usage (or make it free if that's legal), ubiquitous WiFi would suddenly no longer be such a far off dream. HERE is the article that this idea came from.



    How about this, you work on stitching together thousands of organizations and millions of homes, getting DSL & cable ISPs to allow their residential internet service to be used as commercialized backhaul, as well as filling all the gaps between the APs, and I'll get back to breeding unicorns.



    Quote:

    Also, it's a bit silly to assume WiFi will continue to provide the same limited coverage it does now for the indefinite future.



    There is are still fundemental limits by the laws of electromagnetism and the amount of power that can be used for this use.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    @ JeffDM,



    There are large gaps in 3G coverage just as there are gaps in WiFi and I bet in some rural areas, there's more WiFi access to be had than 3G coverage. You can go down highways and find no 3G coverage, but there will be rest stops and McDonalds with WiFi. 3G coverage, according to AT&T, is available in 41 states and mainly in their large metro areas, which have black holes of their own.



    I understand that the odds are stacked against WiFi in its current form, but we both know neither of us can predict the future. When the cell companies begin rolling out 4G, WiFi may be considerably more widespread and each access point may be able to provide a larger coverage area; fiber lines connected to these more advanced wireless access points could easily provide faster connections as well.



    At the very least, it would be nice to have the option to place free or less expensive VOIP calls over WiFi without needing a third party app.
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