Football clubs to get Wi-Fi

Fans and businessmen will soon be able to surf while they watch at 72 Football League clubs, starting with Reading FC

Football fans in Reading will soon be able to browse the Internet over a wireless link while they watch the game, as football clubs prepare to join cafes, airports and train stations in installing Wi-Fi hot spots.

Toshiba on Tuesday will announce a plan to equip 72 Football League clubs with Wi-Fi, with Reading FC being used as a test site.

Wi-Fi, which creates 300-foot-radius areas where laptops can connect wirelessly to the Internet, has experienced a boom in recent months as Internet service providers, airports, train companies, restaurants and coffee shops have rushed to outfit locations with hot spots (See ZDNet UK's IT Priorities special report on mobile wireless). Despite the investment, industry analysts are sceptical that a working business model exists for selling Wi-Fi access.

Toshiba has been involved in some of the highest-profile hot-spot deals, including a McDonald's plan to offer Wi-Fi in several major US cities. The IT giant manufactures Wi-Fi networking equipment as well as laptop computers with built-in wireless connectivity.

"(The) agreement with the Football League as a huge step in making wireless Internet access available to a mass audience, allowing photographers, journalists, fans and businessmen to capitalise on the wireless connectivity available," the company said in a statement.