O2 UK today announced its plans to deploy a "market-changing" public WiFi platform in the UK, with the launch of free O2 Wifi. O2's premium hotspots will be managed through partnerships with key venue owners and will be open for all customers to access for free, no matter which mobile or broadband provider they are with. It will begin rollout immediately by replacing its existing 450 Cloud hotspots in its retail and office estate. It will continue to extend the reach and scale of O2 Wifi through partnerships with strategic venues, to include shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations across the UK.
The O2 Wifi service will address the many shortcomings of current public WiFi offerings by being genuinely free to customers, simple, fast and secure. O2's mobile expertise and insight, allied with an enhanced quality of network connectivity and strong venue partnerships will now deliver a significantly enhanced user experience. O2 Wifi will introduce a new level of customer engagement, driving increased value for both the WiFi hosting venue and the user by bringing together O2 Wifi with the capabilities of O2 Media and O2 Money to offer the potential to deliver relevant timely content that customers want in a format that suits them.
Access to the hotspots will be through a simple sign-up process and will be free to both O2 and non-O2 mobile customers, providing seamless connectivity to a high quality network. The sign up process will be auto provisioned for all O2 customers with WiFi devices by the end of the year. All hotspots will be premium public hotspots, as opposed to using residential connections with limited bandwidth.
O2's New Business Development Director Tim Sefton said: "Building networks is a core capability. We have pioneered the explosion of mobile data over the last three years and know better than anyone where people are accessing data. O2 Wifi hotspots will bring high quality public WiFi access to the majority of mobile users. Only 20% of people who have access to free public WiFi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being WiFi enabled. We know that WiFi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where WiFi is free and the variable quality of the current experience.
O2 is integrating new layers of technology into the existing network to enable a seamless and sustained customer experience. We are technology-agnostic and driven entirely by our customers' needs. We believe that services should be delivered in the best possible way, across multiple networks, supported by different technologies."
O2 has long been a market-leader in provision of public WiFi services across mobile devices, introducing unlimited WiFi access included in iPhone tariffs over three years ago. Through O2's partnerships with BT Openzone and The Cloud, adoption and growth of WiFi services has been significant with customers seeing real usage benefits.
With O2 Wifi, O2 aims to create a scaled WiFi platform that will be at least double the number of premium hotspots currently offered by BT Openzone and The Cloud combined by 2013.
Cheers ~ Arne