Breaking News: T-Mobile and Kinko's make their rollout announcement tomorrow: T-Mobile said it would build hotspots in Kinko's shops ages ago. But tomorrow the two companies are pulling off a big shebang in Dallas to announce that 170 stores will be live at the end of October, and a total of 1,100 by April 2004. The first batch of hotspots will be in Northern Texas, Northern and Central California (including San Francisco), New Jersey, and New York.
T-Mobile figures that 80 percent of its existing hot spot customers are business users and those users may already be going to Kinko's to print presentations. Now they can hang out in the cubes at Kinko's and get some work done in a quiet environment, said Pete Thompson, director of marketing for T-Mobile hot spots.
Eventually, Kinko's hopes to make printers accessible to the Wi-Fi users so that customers can wirelessly send a document to the printer, said a T-Mobile spokesperson. For now, customers have to email the document to a Kinko's computer that is connected to a printer. Because Kinko's locations typically already have a network connected via DSL or cable modem or other high-speed service, this implies that their printers are on a separate network from T-Mobile's wireless service.
At some point subscribers to other hot spot networks will be able to use the service at Kinkos. T-Mobile has been much criticized for operating a closed network. But Thompson says T-Mobile plans to open its network, once it feels other high-quality networks are available for its customers to roam onto.
"It will be more of a bilateral roaming agreement rather then just letting others come onto our network," he said. T-Mobile will be looking for good security and quality of service on other networks before allowing its customers to roam onto them. Thompson was mum on which other service providers it might make roaming deals with and when.