Costa joins Wi-Fi hot spot rollout

Following a deal with BT Openzone, Costa Coffee now offers wireless Internet access at five of its London outlets, and there should be a top-up soon

BT has added Costa Coffee to its expanding network of Wi-Fi hot spots that let mobile workers hook up to the Internet using wireless connections.

Costa will join a growing list of companies, including Hilton Hotels, Welcome Break and Roadchef offering BT's Wi-Fi service, called Openzone. BT charges from £6 for 60 minutes of access valid for 24 hours over the hot spots, to £85 a month for unlimited access, and plans to have 4,000 Openzones across the UK by June 2005.

The Costa deal will see five outlets in the City of London Wi-Fi enabled: Moorgate, Farringdon, New Bridge Street, Houndsditch and Cannon Street. It takes BT's total to 36 -- BT says it is on target to provide 70 Openzones by the end of December and 400 by June of next year.

The emphasis is on rolling out the service to carefully targeted prime sites, rather than random ones, said BT. Other high street names conducting Openzone trials include Lloyds TSB, Nationwide and John Lewis. Pierre Danon, chief executive officer of BT Retail, said that developing strong relationships with key high street partners like Costa is essential if BT is to achieve targets for rolling out BT Openzone.

Rival coffee chain Starbucks began a six-month Wi-Fi trial at two London stores in August, on Fleet Street and Broad Street. Access is currently free, and if the trial is a success the company is expected to offer the service commercially across Britain.

Keep up to date on the latest Wi-Fi hotspot deals here.

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