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BT to bundle Wi-Fi with broadband

BT's wireless bundle, together with a new 'hot spot in a box', is an attempt to boost its Openzone Wi-Fi hotspot service, which has seen lacklustre usage

Customers will be able to buy a broadband connection for their home, a wireless modem, and a subscription to BT Openzone's Wi-Fi network all in one package from this autumn. BT announced on Monday that it will begin selling the bundled offering from September. Pricing details are not yet available, but BT has said that it will cost "a single, affordable monthly fee". The bundle is likely to appeal to mobile professionals who want the ability to use a laptop computer around their home, and who would also value the chance to surf the Web and send and receive emails in public places such as airports, hotels and coffee shops. BT Broadband provides an ADSL connection of 512Kbps, and costs up to £28 per month on its own. The Voyager ADSL 802.11b wireless modem is also included in the bundle. Separately, BT also announced that it is launching a Wi-Fi "hot spot in a box", aimed at small businesses such as hotels and book shops. The product includes an 802.11b access point from Toshiba, and BT will provide the network connectivity. Sluggish take-up?
BT Openzone was launched last summer, after the government legalised commercial Wi-Fi networks. At its last official announcement, BT had around 110 hot spots, but the company insists that more have since been launched and that its target of 400 by this summer is still achievable. Usage of the network is growing rapidly, according to BT, which said that it has now reached over 90,000 minutes of access per week. That only works out at 1,500 hours usage per week, or around two hours per day per hot spot. "We're still in the rollout stage," insisted the BT spokesman, pointing out that customers will be much more attracted to Wi-Fi once operators have built larger networks. "When that happens, we'll have really made Wi-Fi a useful service for people to use," he added. One reason for slow take-up could be pricing. BT has been criticised for charging £85 per month for unlimited access to Openzone, and on Monday it also announced a new tariff. Openzone 120 gives 2 hours access per month for £10 per month -- slightly better value than the existing fee of £6 for one hour's one-off access.


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