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More About O2 Wi-Fi Nationwide Network

The announcement by O2 that it is planning to roll out a free wireless, nationwide network brings a number of questions regarding how the service will be deployed.

In the official press release (here (opens in new tab)), O2 says that it will double the number of premium hotspots currently offered by BT Openzone and the Cloud combined by 2013.

What constitute "premium" hotspots hasn't been clearly defined except that they will be managed through partnerships with key venue owners.

BT claims to operate more than two million hotspots nationwide, a mix of BT FON and premium hotspots while The Cloud currently has 22,000 hotspots internationally.

O2 was one of the first to provide unlimited Wi-Fi access to iPhone users three years ago and the move is aimed at allowing more people to use free public Wi-Fi instead of its own data network.

The service will be subsidised by advertising for non-customers and we suspect that O2 will use it as a marketing tool to sell its own products.

Whether Tesco Mobile - which is 50 per cent owned by Telefonica Europe - or Giffgaff will count as "O2 customers" remains to be seen.

Also O2 has hinted that it will bring O2 WiFi together with O2 Media (its advertising branch) and O2 Money (its VISA backed debit card service).

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.