AT&T’s Wi-Fi for Apple iPhone coming sooner or later

Regarding AT&T and its free Wi-Fi for iPhone users, Saul Hansell reports for The New York Times, “I was able to reach Fletcher Cook, an AT&T spokesman… The posting of the offer of free Wi-Fi on the company’s site was ‘a human error,’ he said. But he added that the company has long planned to offer free Wi-Fi to customers with iPhones and other phones that have Wi-Fi capability.”

“‘Our Wi-Fi network is a great way of differentiating the AT&T network and giving customers another reason to choose us over a competitor,’ he said. As for details and timing, Mr. Fletcher was mum,” Hansell reports. “So the only secret AT&T really has is the date when it will stop teasing its iPhone customers.”

Full article here.

23 Comments

  1. The only thing worse than the AT&T;3G coverage is their WiFi coverage…. Unless you live at McDonalds or Starbucks.

    I think they need to expand their 3G coverage… That would kill two birds with one stone.

  2. How long before all public places wise up and offer free WiFi just to differentiate themselves? If I have a choice between two food/coffee joints near each other and one offers free WiFi, that’s where I’ll go. If one charges for WiFi and the other has no WiFi, I’ll choose the place with none just to punish the business that wants to charge for WiFi.

    Remember when motel marquees said “Free HBO” or “Free Cable TV”? Now it’s just assumed.

  3. Is it too hard to believe that AT&T;is planning a launch around the time of the Developer’s Conference in June? That would be my first assumption. They will want some new feature to encourage sales of their new iPhone 2.0 launch, just as it’s rumoured that Apple will be revamping .Mac for the launch as well.

  4. For those who keep spouting off that AT&T;needs to blanket the US with 3G like Europe, they need a little dose of reality.

    Here are some facts…

    US Population: Approximately 304 million
    US Total area: 3.8 million square miles
    US Population Density: 80 per square mile

    EU Population: Approximately 498 million
    EU total area: 1.67 million square miles
    EU Population Density: 289 per square mile

    Average cost of a cellular tower is between $75,000 to $200,000
    Average coverage per cell tower is between 5-30sq/mi

    Now, let’s look at those numbers and do a little rough math…

    Therefore, to cover the entire US with 3G, AT&T;would need as few as ~126,000 cell towers and as many as ~1,100,000 cell towers. Let’s for sake of argument, grab the median number, which is ~ 500,000 cell towers, and calculate the cost using the median cost of ~ $145,000, which equates to $72.5 billion investment.

    AT&T;’s entire market capitalization is about 225 billion, divided up amongst a wide variety of telecommunications businesses, of which the wireless sector may be at most about 25% of the whole, or a worth of about 56 billion, I really don;t see them pleasing every tom dick and harry living in the boonies… They are, logically enough, focused on CITY dwellers, like the vast majority of big business.

    Just saying.
    As AT&T;is a publicly traded company with a net worth of Yeah, that’s gonna happen!

  5. dead on Eric, well said.

    on the other hand, with the price per meg of text messaging that they have, they should be able to afford all those towers in no time. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  6. Eric, that analysis made perfect sense. You must be new here.

    Obviously, AT&T should cover the entire US with 3G in the same way that Apple should have Apple Stores in <insert name of podunk town here>. Why? Because I want it, dammit!

    C’mon, Eric! Get with the program here!

  7. I just really don’t get all these people yelling for 3G. It’s faster, but it isn’t close to a good broadband WiFi. With normal network traffic, I would guess that the total time spent DLing things on EDGE vs. 3G in real world conditions isn’t that huge a gap.

    I’ve had my iPhone on EDGE load MDN at about the same speed that my 6.0Mbs DSL did on several occations just due to server load and net traffic.

    3G is overrated.

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