BT's Wi-Fi ISP, Openzone, is to launch a pay as you go option in a bid to kick start consumer demand for broadband hotspot access.
At £6 an hour, or £85 per month for unlimited use, many have thus far been put off using BT's hotspots, which are found in hotels, airports, motorway service stations and coffee shops. With the arrival of a pay-as-you-go service, customers wanting to check their email quickly in the hotel lobby or over a cup of Costa coffee without coughing up for an entire hour's worth can now do so. Pricing for the new option has yet to be confirmed.
Sadly, an interoperable payment system between different hotspot suppliers will have to wait for the Wireless Broadband Access group to agree on international agreement, according to Steve Andrews, BT Retail managing director for products and enterprises. Till then, customers who take up a subscription with BT Openzone will be able to use hotspots at some Costa Coffee outlets, and face a completely different payment system if they find themselves at a Starbucks instead, which is served by BT rival T-Mobile.
Meanwhile BT Openzone is gearing up to offer a week's free Openzone surfing as a publicity push in the New Year. To get it, however, you have to register with OpenZone, between Jan 26 and Feb 1.
According to Andrews, the past three months has seen a 300 percent increase in the number of online minutes racked up by hotspot users. The promotion is part of a million pound campaign to generate mass awareness and availability of public access Wi-Fi.