I'm indebted to Dave Hughes, the director of BT Wireless Broadband, for putting me right in my rant about BT Openzone the other week, in which I sl*gged off the public WiFi operator for its coverage (or rather lack of) in Brum and Manchester.
It seems the maps were out of date on the BT Openzone Web site and, thankfully, the WSP has now updated them.
It's clear from Dave's explanations, however, that to get the best coverage in the UK, you need to subscribe directly to BT Openzone, and not rely on a roaming deal with a partner (in my case, Boingo).
The biggest problem facing the public access WiFi industry IMHO, is the lack of seamless roaming deals between operators, as is the case with GSM and 3G mobile phone nets.
This is because each WSP wants the best experience their own subscribers and, quite frankly, this situation isn't going to change.
Because of this, I expect that public access WiFi will give way to mobile broadband as a popular service amongst laptop users in the not-too-distant future.
I'd give public access WiFi about five years in this regard and I think BT Openzone will be around for some time after that.
This doesn't, of course, do any favours for WiMAX, which is a great shame, as the technology behind WiMAX is vastly superior to that of WiFi B/G/N technology...