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BT, UK Wi-Fi network enter roaming pact

Telco's hotspot tally rises to 7,800-plus

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BT's Wi-Fi subsidiary, Openzone, has added Broadreach Networks' collection of hotspots to its own, courtesy of a roaming deal struck between the two companies.

It's a two-way agreement: not only will BT Openzone customers be able to access the Internet at Broadreach's locations, which include the country's major railway stations and soon a number of on-board wireless train services, plus the usual array of cafés and coffee shops, but Broadreach's ReadyToSurf customers will be able to log on through BT Openzone hotspots.

Broadreach's network currently runs to 350 hotspots throughout the UK. BT Openzone operates 1,500 Wi-Fi access sites of its own, but its diverse roaming agreements mean its customers can now use more than 7,800 UK hotspots. Broadreach punters, alas, will only have access to BT Openzone's own locations, a company spokeswoman admitted - sites hosted by the telco's other roaming partners, such as The Cloud and T-Mobile, remain off-limits.

Deals like this have always been part of Broadreach's gameplan. While the company operates its own ReadyToSurf hotspots, which sit alongside its fixed Internet access terminal business, Broadreach is keen to sub-let its network to third-party service providers, particularly those with extensive, existing customer bases.

BT is one of Broadreach's investors, as are Intel and Virgin.

The two Wi-Fi providers' hotspots can be located via their websites, www.btopenzone.com and www.readytosurf.com, respectively. ®

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