BT Openzone is set to expand further with a deal to put hotspots in cashpoints, forgetting for a moment that it's not a mobile phone network, and making maximum use of the unlicensed spectrum available to Wi-Fi.
The latest deal is with cashpoint specialist Cashbox - suppliers of those stand-alone machines found lurking in the back of late-night shops and increasingly in the corners of pubs. These cashpoints, which are connected via the Link network, already have a broadband connection; so slipping a Wi-Fi access point into the box is not a great technical challenge.
One hopes that Cashbox is taking suitable security precautions when it comes to banking transactions sharing a cable with punters surfing, but it should be eminently possible to separate the streams - not to mention providing priority for cashpoint-transaction-related traffic.
Ten points are being fitted out initially for a trial, though both companies are confident the concept will be rolled out to the rest of the 2,300 Cashbox sites around the country.
It might seem unlikely that one would choose to surf the internet from the local off licence, but with Skype and its ilk providing telephony over Wi-Fi, Openzone is following a policy of pushing Wi-Fi into any location it can find. BT isn't going to suddenly build a mobile phone network, but while the networks are deciding that data is their future, BT is rapidly deploying a data network that could prove similarly ubiquitous. ®