Qwest has rolled out free WiFi to its fixed high-speed Internet customers. The company is offering free access at 17,000 hotspots nationwide operated by AT&T. The move comes as other broadband providers are successfully using free WiFi as a customer acquisition and retention tool.
AT&T, which purchased hotspot provider Wayport last year, offers its broadband customers and some smartphone users free WiFi access. Meanwhile, cable operator Cablevision has launched a free WiFi network to its broadband customers in Long Island, N.Y. Verizon Communications reportedly is preparing to offer its home broadband service customers free WiFi access at hotspots via an agreement with hotspot company Boingo.
In March, market research firm Dell'Oro Group said it believed Cablevision's boost in net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter 2008 was likely attributed to the cable company's rollout of WiFi in its service area. The operator reported a more than 70 percent sequential growth in net subscriber additions, which was higher than any other major cable operator in North America.
More recently, AT&T said the number of WiFi users and connections dramatically increased on its 20,000-some domestic hotspots. The company said AT&T WiFi connections totaled 10.5 million in the first quarter 2009. That number was more than triple the 3.4 million connections in the first quarter of 2008, and more than half of AT&T's 20 million total WiFi connections for all of 2008.
Qwest said it commissioned a study conducted by Impulse Research that found nearly half of all respondents valued WiFi because it provided them with the freedom and flexibility to stay connected beyond the home or office.
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