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Starbucks and T-Mobile announce 1,200 hot spots; 800 more by 2003
HP unveils wireless configuration software
T-Mobile reconfigures to avoid stepping on other networks
Coverage from other publications
How the Swedes handle co-existence of networks
Tomorrow: T-Mobile knocked on the Rosai Group's door and said, would you mind turning off your private LAN?
Starbucks, T-Mobile, and HP reveal 1,200 hot spots, new software: Today's joint announcement, scheduled at 10 am, but announced in a press release at 4 am this morning, shows the future of what is now called T-Mobile HotSpot service. The press release says that 1,200 hot spots are now up and running in these cities and states (Connecticut's an awfully large single item): Atlanta; Austin, TX; Boston; Connecticut; Denver; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Houston; New York; New Jersey; Philadelphia; Portland, OR; the San Francisco Bay area; and the Seattle region. (The Texas, New York City, SF,and Seattle service was all up and running before fall 2001.)
By the end of 2002, these locations will also be lit up: southern California, including Los Angeles; Chicago; Maryland; Pittsburgh; Virginia; and Washington DC. The service has already expanded to Europe with certain London and Berlin stories active; the company said additional stores and cities will be lit up. The stores will have a T-Mobile HotSpot brand to identify that access is available.
HP's connection software can be downloaded here, and the company is offering $20 off a Wi-Fi card here, which, at $79, is not a bad deal for what appears to be an OEM rebranded Agere Orinoco card. (Agere recently sold this product line to Proxim.)
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is offering free day passes. They also have a NetGear Wi-Fi card for $65 with certain plans when you sign up. Currently, the link from Starbucks's page that says to click for a free day pass takes you to T-Mobile's HotSpot information without any free pass mentioned.
Starbucks's wireless store locator is merely an extension of their current store locator (select wireless from the popup menu), and it doesn't appear to offer a simple way to, for instance, find all activated stores in a geographic area -- only city by city. T-Mobile's location finder is sluggish this morning, and it's clear that they've just modified MobileStar's old location finder code (the page names are the same). However, it allows you to select entire categories.
Analysis: This isn't a bold move, but it's a welcome one that will continue to raise the boat for the entire wireless ISP market. As customers come to find ubiquity, they also start to expect ubiquity. The same trend happened with cell phone service, and hotel Internet access. This announcement is a reiteration of earlier deals with Compaq (HP's merger partner) and MobileStar, and a reaffirmation of Starbucks of agreements in place since winter and spring 2001. By not announcing partner networks today, however, T-Mobile definitely sent a signal that it is continuing to go it alone, confident in its expanding footprint that will allow it to set terms for roaming.
Boingo's Network Size: Boingo's aggregated network still stands at under 700 locations, making it an interesting catch-up for the company to meet the 5,000 hot spots earlier predicted by year's end. A few big deals could change that, but until then, T-Mobile rules the roost.
Surf and Sip Guerrilla Tactics: Literally as I write this while the conference is underway in SF, Rick Ehrlinspiel is handing out Surf and Sip coupons for 10 hours of free access to journalists and others as they enter. Rick called me this morning to tell me that he installed a hot spot next door to the press announcement Starbucks yesterday at The Rosai Group. Commercial guerrilla Wi-Fi?
News.com reports that T-Mobile upgraded its software to avoid conflicts: With a different set of starting assumptions than the Oregonian article two days ago, News.com reports that T-Mobile upgraded its Cisco access points to avoid using Wi-Fi channels already in use, solving the Portland problem. (True, Personal Telco members?)
How the Swedes Handle Co-Existence: I asked Carlo Cassisa, the business development director of Sweden's Telia Homerun wireless provider, how they handle wireless access point overlaps. Telia has one of the most extensive networks in the world, and they're in a tighter geographic configuration than, say, Wayport: Up til now we have been able to use the old "Swedish Consensus" in the few cases we have had "problems". As we mostly have hotels and only few cafes we have had little interference problem. Our guys normally scan the band to see if there are any networks already and try to choose one that is least "contaminated". ( A chat with the others is not bad if you can figure out who they are).
Infoworld on Starbucks/T-Mobile: I've emailed the reporter as two facts are in error: MobileStar's network was never shut down; and there were 500 stores unwired. Today's official announcement boosted the number by 700 stores, but many of those new stores were quietly available in the last few months.
Some Wi-Fi philosophy with your coffee: A brief musing on Wi-Fi's ubiquity, and the right to take bandwidth without knowing where it came from.