RealTime IT News

Borders Books Officially Launches Hotspots

The T-Mobile Hotspot service continues to roll out in new locations. Famed as the provider behind Wi-Fi-based Internet connections in well over 2000 Starbucks Coffee Shops, the company has made good on last years announcement to provide the same service in Borders Books & Music.

The hotspot service is now available in 145 locations, namely every Borders store in these seven states: California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Washington. According to the T-Mobile Hotspot Web site, other states with some Borders hotspots include Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York. Of the 410 Borders in the United States, the majority should be Wi-Fi enabled by mid-June, according to a release out today from the Ann Arbor, MI-based retailer.

The service covers more than just the cafes found at many Borders locations, but extends also into the book shelves and sitting areas common to the stores.

T-Mobile, which also provides hotspot services at several major airports (both at gates and frequent flyer clubs), recently made news when it dropped the price of its hotspot services. The service is now $29.99 per month with a one year subscription, or $39.99 per month with no commitment. The Pay-as-you-go rate is $.10 per minute with a one hour (or $6 minimum).

Wired News recently reported that T-Mobile's Wi-Fi service might not be very lucrative due to a lack of subscribers -- there are only "tens of thousands" of paying customers out of the 22 million visitors who go to just Starbucks each week. Also T-Mobile powers all of its hotspot locations with a T1 line for backhaul to the Internet, which can cost about $1000 per month per location according to analysts.

T-Mobile is a partner in Intel's advertising blitz to promote the chipmaker's Centrino mobile platform and hotspot services in general. That ad campaign began approximately one month ago, and it should be in place with Borders, but it's not happening with Starbucks right now according to T-Mobile spokesperson -- Borders has setup a separate co-marketing partnership with Intel on Centrino/hotspots.

T-Mobile says its plans for 2003 include continuing to build locations, gain more distribution partners for co-marketing, and build on the user experience through moves like creating a new client with Boingo that will integrate Wi-Fi and GPRS cellular connections for laptops.