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UK WISP offers two weeks' free Wi-Fi access

Tune in to the right (railway) station

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UK wireless ISP Broadreach Networks, which operates under the ReadyToSurf brand, today inaugurated a two-week free-for-all for users connecting to its Wi-Fi hotspots in London's 12 major railway stations.

The move follows rival WISP T-Mobile's agreement with BT's Wi-FI division, BT Openzone, to allow their customers to roam across each others' hotspot networks.

Broadreach's two week trial starts today and ends Sunday, 7 November. Stations included in the freebie, include Cannon St, Charing Cross, Euston, Fenchurch St, Kings Cross, St Pancras, Liverpool St, London Bridge, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo stations.

The giveaway comes after the company signed its 100,000th registered user across its Wi-Fi hotspots and fixed Internet terminals, located in a number of Virgin Megastores, Travelodge hotels, Little Chef eateries, Bagel Factories, independent coffee shops and many of the UK's main-line railway stations.

Broadreach is also partnering with a number of train operators, including Virgin, to roll-out Wi-Fi onto rolling stock to provide Internet access throughout the journey. Broadreach's in-train hardware partner is Canada's PointShot Wireless, which recently saw carriages equipped with its Wi-Fi kit travel over 750,000km in total.

Broadreach's own reason to be cheerful is the initiation of its one millionth user session today, at Waterloo Station. It said it has seen a 400 per cent increase in in-station Wi-Fi usage in the last six months. The figure of 100,000 registered users is double what it had a year ago. In the last four months, the average amount of time users spend online in any given session rose 15 per cent from 27 minutes to 31 minutes, the company said.

On the business side, that not only means more revenue per user, but the increase in in-station usage justified Broadreach's focus on its rail partnerships, said CEO Magnus McEwen-King.

"At a time when other companies in our industry are focusing on a hotspot landgrab, we've focused on installing hotspots in high-footfall, branded locations that can deliver users - and revenue - for Broadreach," he said.

Perhaps he has T-Mobile in mind when he mentioned the 'landgrab'. Certainly the mobile phone operator last week announced it had tripled its UK coverage to 1900 hotspots, thanks to the addition of 1300 BT Openzone locations to its own tally of 600. That brings T-Mobile's worldwide total to over 10,500, including the 9200 it has installed itself. ®

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