Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is weird: Verizon replaces T-Mobile as the Wi-Fi provider at Borders stores, with free service launching at 500 stores by mid-October. Barnes & Noble, Borders closest competitor, uses AT&T as its Wi-Fi provider. AT&T charges for access at most of its locations, but Barnes & Noble struck a deal for free Wi-Fi in its stores. (Note: This story originally said B&N's Wi-Fi was a for-fee service, but yours truly occasionally loses track of which chain's Wi-Fi is operated by which provider. Apologies.)
This is a competitive stroke for Borders, of course, which can add an amenity to the checklist of reasons to visit its stores as a B&N alternative. Borders earlier added a store affinity discount and rebate card that carries no cost, unlike BN's $25/yr fee for its more expansive discount membership program. (As someone who also operates a book price shopping service, isbn.nu, I highly recommend Borders free program, as the company regularly sends out huge discounts for online and in-store shopping.)
Verizon has, over the last several years, indicated that Wi-Fi is a kind of nonentity in the mobile connectivity world. While the company on its DSL and cellular sides have, at times, offered Wi-Fi services, it's always been a fourth-class citizen. More recently, Verizon offered free access to a subset of Boingo hotspots to its DSL and fiber (FiOS) customers, but you must run Verizon client software which functions only on laptops and only in certain Windows releases, including XP and Vista in 32-bit flavors. (See "Verizon Limits Free Wi-Fi to Laptops," 2009-07-28.)
Borders must have decided that bodies are better than pennies--and Verizon may have wanted to pick up the opportunity for more brand advertising at a low, low price.