[qi:___wifi] Qwest (s Q), the nation’s third-largest phone company, has teamed up with AT&T (s T) to offer Wi-Fi access to Qwest’s phone and broadband subscribers. Qwest is the latest ISP to add Wi-Fi to its product line, as mobile computing and connectivity become more important to consumers. AT&T has offered access to Wi-Fi hotspots for more than two years, and last year bought Wayport to boost its hotspot locations nationwide. Cablevision (s CVC) has seen success retaining customers with its investment in building hotspots, and Verizon (s VZ) is reportedly in a deal with Boingo to provide Wi-Fi access to its customers.
The offering supports our idea that customers want mobility offered as part of a broadband package, but also underscores that Qwest doesn’t seem to have the wireless services its customers want. Its lack of a wireless network has hurt its bottom line as wired phone business contracts and broadband growth slow. By outsourcing yet another service, Qwest looks increasingly behind the times, no matter what its cute, new advertising campaign tries to convey.