Wayport has 6,300 locations equipped; 5 million sessions in 2004: Wayport announced that they have exceeded 6,300 hotspots between locations with which they have directly contracted and those that they operate as a managed service, primarily for SBC Communications's FreedomLink network. The company also said that they had 5 million connections in 2004, with 600,000 in October alone. Wayport had about 1,000 location at the end of 2003, and a significant subset included in-room wired broadband hotels with Wi-Fi just in lobbies. Virtually all new locations are Wi-Fi only in retail establishments.
Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Wayport, said in an interview on Monday that Wayport believes they are now the biggest Wi-Fi network in the U.S., having exceeded T-Mobile's count, which is just under 5,300 according to T-Mobile's location finder. (This doesn't include T-Mobile's fee-based roaming partners.) "We're very very excited about it; it's a big milestone for us. We're excited to be the biggest in the United States," Lowden said.
Lowden said that Wayport is adding about 150 locations per week. They expect to exceed 6,000 McDonald's restaurants by third quarter of 2005, pushing their total over 10,000 locations.
Because certain large footprints have already been tied up, such as many coffee chains, and because of Wayport's exclusive deal for fast-food restaurants with McDonald's, Wayport is pushing into different kinds of spaces and services. For instance, their deal with Hertz gives them an alternate presence at airports. And Wayport will work with venues that may not need public Wi-Fi at all, or it's an adjunct to the real purpose: private services like cashless transactions (which they're doing with McDonald's) and security.
Lowden also noted that even with the hotel market so widely built out with high-speed services, there's still a lot of room to grow or rebuild. "We continue to see opportunities where folks have had three or four service providers over the last three or four years," he said. Wayport's now an established firm with major partners making it easy for them to bat clean up in cases such as these.
The company has grown fairly rapidly in the last year to handle the new contracts with over 330 employees now, with 150 hired in the last year.