RealTime IT News

SBC Widens Wi-Fi Reach

SBC Communications' Wi-Fi service is now available at 600 Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide, as it continues its partnering strategy.

Bibliophiles can pay $3.95 for a single two-hour session or buy an annual membership with unlimited access to all 5,000 SBC Wi-Fi hot spots for $19.95 per month.

Destiny Belknap, an SBC spokeswoman, said the company has a revenue sharing agreement with the book chain but declined to disclose specifics.

Barnes & Noble originally chose Cometa for its hotspots , but the deployment was apparently never completed after the network operator ran into financial trouble.

For retailers, the importance of Wi-Fi is mostly an amenity, not a money maker by itself. Customers who stay longer in stores will likely buy more books, magazines and CDs.

In a nod to business travelers, the telecom carrier also announced that its Wi-Fi offering will be available in 88 Avis Rent A Car airport locations by early 2005.

The SBC-Avis partnership comes after Wayport said it will install 50 hotspots at Hertz airport locations in the United States for customers picking up or dropping off a rental vehicle.

With today's announcements, SBC's FreedomLink Wi-Fi networks is now available in 5,000 locations. The company has set a goal of 20,000 hotspots by 2006.