It's rare for any Wi-Fi hotspot operator to disclose actual usage, but AT&T mostly gives its Wi-Fi away: The telecom giant, which acquired infrastructure builder Wayport in late 2008 to bring all its hotspot operations in house and swing a loop around McDonald's service, reported 10.5m Wi-Fi connections in Q1 2009. The firm saw 20m in all of 2008, and just 3.4m in Q1 2008.
AT&T added more free users to its Wi-Fi network as 2008 progressed, even as it built the scale of its network. Several million iPhone subscribers had free Wi-Fi added to their accounts in 2008, for instance, while AT&T allowed even its lowest-tier DSL subscribers to have free access at hotspots, too. The company once charged from nominal ($2/mo.) to low ($10/mo.) to subscribers, but gradually phased out fees in favor of usage and the loyalty that results.
The company gained the contract for Starbucks in Feb. 2008, and very gradually switched service from T-Mobile (which still has roaming rights) to its own brand during the year. That added over 7,000 premium locations with a built-in user base.