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AT&T Expanding Wi-Fi Hotspots In New York, San Francisco

December 28, 2010

Those planning to attend New Years Eve festivities in New York’s Times Square later this week will be able to take advantage of enhanced Wi-Fi access courtesy of AT&T, who on Tuesday announced plans to expand a pilot program offering free-to-use wireless access through so-called “hotzones.”

The Dallas, Texas based telecom company will also establish new hotzones near Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, the company announced in a December 28 press release. They will join the Times Square Wi-Fi location, as well as ones in Charlotte, North Carolina and Chicago, Illinois, as part of a project to use the wireless technology to supplement broadband stations in high-traffic metropolitan areas.

“Our initial AT&T Wi-Fi hotzones have received great customer response and supported high data traffic,” John Donovan, AT&T’s Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement. “The pilot demonstrated the clear benefits of having fast and readily-available Wi-Fi options for our customers and our network, and so we have decided to deploy hotzones in more locations.”

“We’re excited to start the next phase of our hotzone program with additional Wi-Fi coverage areas in New York City and, soon, in San Francisco,” added Angie Wiskocil, Senior Vice President of the company’s Wi-Fi Services division. “AT&T Wi-Fi will be available across a wider area for Manhattan residents, visitors and New Year’s Eve revelers during the busy holiday season and beyond. Plus, San Francisco residents are expected to soon be able to enjoy a Wi-Fi hotzone in the Embarcadero Center area as they shop, dine and work.”

According to AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson, a major reason why New York and San Francisco were chosen for the upgrades is the sheer number of iPhone users that live in the two urban locales. The Apple-developed smartphones automatically connect to AT&T’s Wi-Fi networks whenever they are available, and Svensson says that the company hopes this will free up some of the traffic clogging their existing cellular networks in both areas.

AT&T reports that their networks handled nearly 107 million Wi-Fi connections during the third quarter of this year. Comparatively, those same networks handled just 85.5 million connections during the entirety of 2009. Donovan told Svensson that the company planned further expansion of the Wi-Fi hotzones in the future, with sporting venues specifically mentioned as a target location.

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