BT is offering 90-day free Wi-Fi roaming on its Openzone network and half-price annual subscriptions with every sale of a Dell laptop with Intel’s Centrino technology.
The deal, worth £255 in the first instance, and up to £500 if you sign a 12-month all-inclusive contract, is available for three months and is a clear attempt to give the public wireless market a kick in the arse.
With BT’s wireless network gradually reaching critical mass (it also announced plans today to gradually install Wi-Fi in all its public telephones) it clearly thinks that now is the time to strike. It is hoping the discount will get companies with a lot of staff on the road thinking, or maybe just push the ones that have been thinking about it into taking the leap.
Since you need a laptop with the technology installed, most companies will look to kit out their sales staff and execs with new laptops. With Intel having already invested a lot of time and trouble into promoting Centrino, it clearly benefits greatly from the deal. Dell of course will get the sales and hope that they can extend into more corporate purchasing in the future.
So, all in all, a good deal all round. Plus, at half-price, BT’s prices don’t look so unpalatable. For £42.50 a month you get unlimited access to its hotspots. For less than the current price of broadband (£20 a month) you get 900 free minutes a month and then it costs 10p a minute. For £10 a month, 300 minutes then 15p a minute. Blimey, Wi-Fi is even starting to look like a good idea. And presumably by the time the deal is over in a year’s time, Wi-Fi adoption will mean the price will be far lower anyway.
All that’s missing at the moment is a rival complaining to Oftel that BT’s price cut is anti-competitive.
There were some quotes of course. VP of Dell, Bill Rodrigues: “Customers of all sizes are implementing or evaluating wireless technologies to liberate their workforce. Dell is a leader in wireless computing and working together with BT and Intel, we can deliver a simple and affordable wireless solution to customers."
Dave Hughes, chief executive of BT Wireless Broadband, concentrated on the new phone installations: "The deal to put Openzone in some of BT's vast network of payphones is evidence that we are serious in our aim to take wireless broadband to every street in Britain. But we have carefully targeted kiosks which cover nearby small hotels or restaurants so that workers will be able to take advantage of the power of mobile broadband from a comfortable and secure location.”