Why AT&T should offer free Wi-Fi


AT&T recently started offering free WiFi access in about 10,000 hotspots, but only to those who subscribe to its more expensive 3 megabits per second DSL service. While it seems like a good start, the company should extend this offer to all its DSL subscribers. It would mean that it would have another soft (albeit temporary) advantage over cable service providers.

AT&T should also offer free WiFi access to all of its iPhone customers, after all there are some who have had less than desired experience with their EDGE network. It can use Wi-Fi to offload at least some of its traffic off the EDGE network.


vinnie mirchandani

PS – continue earlier comment — sorry forgot to mention, I am visiting Boca Raton, FL where I have had severe time out and sluggish download issues starting noon on July 5

vinnie mirchandani

@ Matt: not sure where you are. But on afternoon of July 5 and continuing through now, the AT&T Edge network has been crawling. Forget the unthinkable, I cannot even do the supposed unbreakable – plain old email. Both Apple and ATT talked about how 2G was good enough for Blackberry users who primairly use it for mail. I spoke to someone in Austin yesterday and he reported similar sluggishness.

BTW – Om, I agree with packaging WIFI with their mobile plan. I wrote about it Monday on my blog. The timing of the packaging with the DSL plan – 3 days after the iPhone launch shows ATT is either unbelivably fragmented or it showcases ATT’s biz model – customers need to get ready to pay it for texting, roaming, wifi, and every other little product it offers as an add-on to the base plan. Basically if you can afford a PDA (iPhone or not), you can afford to pay me 10 10 15X a year in services.


EDGE is getting a bad rap. Today I used it for the first time, on my iPhone, after using just WiFi for the first few days. I was expecting it to not work well, based on all the negative hype. However, I checked emails, used Google Maps, and pulled up articles on Nytimes.com.

And then, I tried the “unthinkable”: I watched videos on YouTube. And it worked fine.

And that last one convinced me that all these people don’t know what the hell are talking about.

Sure, it’s slower than WiFi. But the iPhone is fully functional on EDGE. ANyone saying otherwise probably doesn’t have an iPhone. There’s a lot of armchair commentators who have no real-world experience.

But, I’m all for free WiFi. I think it would be a smart move for AT&T.

  • Matt

I don´t say it should be free, but the costs are very high. They could lower them of course… As for the article, that explanation isn´t enough to make the service “free”.

Jake Taylor

I agree, EDGE has been underpefroming and with all the activation delays with the iphone it would be a great idea for at&t to offer this value add free of charge.


People who bought the iPhone are so full of cash that AT&T has no need to give those people free WiFi access. Since they are the kind of people that are able to pay for more products and services.

If AT&T needs to do something concerning WiFi, it’s to do a roaming deal with FON so that Foneros can access AT&T hotspots for a special per-GB fee and vice-versa.

Victor Blake

Why would this be an advantage over cable ? TWC and Bright House Networks (and possibly others) offer free WiFi to ALL of their residential broadband customers (no matter what tier they are on — even lite tier) at their local hot-spots (airports, malls, public spots, etc.).

Some cable operators even have MOBILE wifi deployed that allows seemsless roaming between hotspots without dropping connections …



What difference does it make? Have you come across any AT&T Wi-Fi spot? Most of the cafes (non-Starbucks) now offer free Wi-Fi.


ok you got half the download. THE OTHER HALF..why not offer free pda or iphone wifiable machine…THE $ is in the service,the monthly service. i dont see gasoline co.s giving away cars THEY ARE BIG MONEY and youd need your gasco everywhere or youd limit travel GOWEVER with internet (line or wifi) its easy to be everywhere…like wifi falling from the sky ..soon we will see free devices loyalthough but everywhere….


you should definitely buy an iphone, even if you dont need it or dont wanna buy it. That way you might probably stop writing one iphone post after another.


Free WiFi would do wonders for AT&T as a brand. Contrary to what their management is thinking, Cingular doesn’t embody inept lack of innovation in the way AT&T does. AT&T also lacks “value” as a perceived attribute. By giving away WiFi access, AT&T could have taken a leadership position in free WiFi, built on the iPhone buzz, AND positioned their future wireless phones for dual usage. Nice value offering, not AT&T, which by the way embodies my grandmother’s rotary phone.

jm ervin

Free is good, maybe necessary. But if not free then at least sharply-discounted for iPhone customers. The growing pool of iPhone users is certain to include a substantial number of people who are new to WiFi and hotspot-seeking. A WiFi bundle would be a comfort item for them, but ATT would also have a lock-in advantage over other ISPs and aggregators.

Rajeev Pokkyarath

Does at&t have any UMA plans lined up?

Apparently they have anounced a “new offer” that allows customers to roam throughout their house free of charge ;-)


In related news, AT&T also announced two new offers which allow residential customers to experience Wi-Fi benefits in the comfort of their own home — still free of charge and free of wires when using an AT&T Wireless (Wi-Fi) Gateway.

The AT&T Wireless Gateway enables residential broadband customers to roam — untethered — throughout virtually any room in the home and receive fast access to the Web using multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Hundreds of thousands of AT&T broadband customers already have home Wi-Fi gateways; AT&T ships an average of nearly 7,000 a day.

David Jacobs

Of course ATT should give free wi-fi to iPhone customers, but they’re too stupid/greedy to do it. A quote from an att “spokeman”

“We believe the EDGE network was designed for a product like the iPhone,” Smith added. “We’re confident with its ability to support the device.”

Everyone loves the iPhone and Apple; Most everyone dislikes/hates ATT. Just think, if Verizon wasn’t equally as stupid we could have had an iPhone on EVDO. Can you imagine..

Sam Gonzales

I agree.. not only is the iphone only an overpriced toy wout 3G and suffers with EDGE on the first few days.. but att should’ve made that a better offer rather than just take our $ and offer us EDGE..I look at Tmobile and sony when they did the MYO/WiFI deal.. now thats something good that even though the MYO was not all that I considered it


These are really great ideas, but we’re talking about AT&T here. Their idea of unlimited text messaging is restricted to intra-carrier texting. The profit motive of this behemoth will undoubtedly outweigh the common sense in the ideas you suggest.

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