BT and Cashbox have announced that they will be turning 2500 ATM or cashpoint boxes, which are found mainly in restaurants, pubs or airports, into paid-for WiFi hotspots but will remain free for iPhone users.
The deal will cover just 10 Cashbox ATM in the trial period before being rolled out to the rest of the devices on a five-year contract. Nearly five million BT broadband customers with inclusive WiFi minutes, together with the one million or so iPhone users will be able to roam around these hot spots for free.
Ciaran Morton, the chief executive of Cashbox, was bullish about the announcement and added: "As a customer-focussed business, we are continually looking for ways to extend our service offering, and with exciting initiatives such as this we are providing our customers with additional opportunities to utilise the ATM machines. May was an all-time record month for transaction levels, as people are finding cash preferable to credit in the current economic climate."
The Register reckons that BT is quietly building a data network that could potentially match a mobile phone infrastructure at a much, much lower cost and with the added benefit that it can do it fairly rapidly.
As Chris Bruce, the general of BT Openzone, points out, BT already has nearly 200,000 residential and commercial hotspots available in the UK and chances that urban dwellers are within the range of more than one BT hotspots are high.
As for customers who want to use the service, it will cost them £5.88 for 90 minutes and a staggering £9.79 for a full day with the usual fair use policy that normally comes with that.
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Cashbox owns the ATM cash machines and partnering with BT Openzone makes sense and is a classical example of a win-win situation. Cashbox gets another revenue stream while BT will have access to an additional 2500 hot spots in some densely populated venues without forking much for the set up fee, given the fact that all ATMs already have internet access.
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