When in roam: Openzone gets access to US Wi-Fi

A deal between BT and Airpath Wireless means that BT Openzone customers will be able to get Wi-Fi access if they cross the Atlantic

Wi-Fi operator BT Openzone has gone transatlantic by agreeing a roaming deal with American operator Airpath Wireless.

BT announced on Wednesday that the deal will give its subscribers access to 350 of Airpath's US-based Wi-Fi hot spots from September. This number should rise to 1,000 by the end of this year, and to over 4,000 in 2004.

The agreement follows an earlier tie-up between BT and TeliaSonera, which gives Openzone customers access to Wi-Fi networks in countries such as France, Belgium and Thailand.

Such roaming deals are crucial for wireless operators if they are to persuade mobile businesspeople to pay up to £85 per month for a Wi-Fi subscription.

"As we predicted at the beginning of the year, the rollout of our Wi-Fi network is developing apace and will provide a real bonus for business travellers in particular," said Steve Andrews, managing director for BT products and enterprises, in a statement.

"It was a logical step for BT to supplement this UK network with the first roaming deal to give Wi-Fi access right across the US," Andrews added.

Airpath's customers will also benefit, as they will get access to BT's UK hot spots. Openzone has installed around 200 sites itself, in addition to which it has teamed up with wholesale Wi-Fi operator The Cloud to get access to its current network of 500 hot spots, with potentially thousands more to come in the near future.

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