AT&T is rolling out WiFi hotspots across the hotel lobbies and airport lounges of America and is pitching the service very much at road warriors and their big business employers.
The telco says that it will deliver secure access from its public WiFi network to corporate intranets in 2003. And in the following year it will offer access to AT&T secure network services over its public WLAN network.
It makes good economic sense to for AT&T to public WLAN on business users, and especially existing business users. With assured security and seamless billing, AT&T can keep corporate customers happy. And there is more chance of turning a profit by getting and keeping the high-roller suits on board. As we have noted, the chances of success for public WLAN networks which rely on people seeking entertainment, freelance journalists and sundry passers-by are slim indeed.
But by definition, road warriors are not a captive market. AT&T's WiFi network is unlikely to be ubiquitous. The company will need to come to terms with rival networks to deliver seamless roaming and service provision, if it is to offer anything more than patchy coverage.
AT&T made its WiFi announcement yesterday at SUPERCOMM 2003. In a keynote speech CEO David Dorman announced the company is investing $500m this year in upgrading corporate customer service.
"From ordering and provisioning to maintenance and billing, nearly all aspects of customer experience in the telecom industry have been broken for more than 20 years," he said.
Don't we know it. The AT&T press release replete with upgrade news is here. ®