BT is refusing to comment on reports that it is in talks with the Spanish Wi-Fi sharing network FON.
The telco has recently started promoting the use of Wi-Fi as part of its Fusion fixed/mobile broadband and mobile package. Because Fusion handsets also work in BT's Openzone hotspots, this has allowed BT to establish a mobile network based entirely on unlicensed spectrum.
Now, according to a Reuters article, the company is conducting secret negotiations with FON, a "community" whose users make their home Wi-Fi routers available for public use, thus creating a network of hotspots to which external users can log on for a fee. FON claims to be the largest such network in the world, although many ISPs — including BT — currently discourage its use.
On Monday, a spokesperson for BT told ZDNet UK: "We are interested in broadening our Wi-Fi footprint, but it's early days and we certainly don't have a deal with FON that we can talk about at the moment." The spokesperson also pointed out that BT's Wi-Fi footprint already comprises 2,000 Openzone hotspots, a burgeoning "wireless cities" programme and almost a million wireless home hubs.
If BT and FON do sign a deal, it is thought that those home hubs would be made available for public use, albeit with the consent of the BT subscriber in whose home the hub is installed.