“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi.
Times Square may not be the only massive, public hotspot effort by Ma Bell — if the pilot works then AT&T plans to roll out in three other locations. I bet those places will be in New York and San Francisco, where AT&T performs like a 300-pound man running up a 60-degree incline. In 2008 AT&T bought Wayport for $275 million and with it 21,000 hotspots in places such as the Starbucks coffee chain, but the carrier never effectively used that network to boost its Wi-Fi capabilities.
AT&T, for as long as I can remember, was what I would call a Wi-Fi hater: using its immense lobbying powers to kill municipal Wi-Fi and other such efforts. Its executives often joked about Wi-Fi not being a carrier-class technology. Good to see them learning from those they mocked.
But they should also be reaching out to cable companies, which have Wi-Fi initiatives of their own and lease capacity on their Wi-Fi networks in order to accommodate their 3G customers. Cablevision in Long Island, N.Y. would be a good place to start.
Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req’d): How AT&T Will Deal With iPad Data Traffic