The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), in conjunction with national wireless service providers Bell Mobility, Fido, Rogers Wireless and TELUS Mobility, has announced the launch of inter-carrier Wi-Fi service along with plans to develop more than 500 new hotspot locations. This new hotspot network, the broadest inter-carrier undertaking of its kind in North America, allows for cross-Canada roaming between carrier-run hotspots under a common brand.
The wireless industry looks forward to continuing to provide Canada's 15 million wireless phone subscribers with the world class services they have come to expect from Canada's wireless carriers.
"Today's announcement will further increase the popularity of Wi-Fi as it provides easy access to service in more places for customers who already enjoy the freedom of Wi-Fi in their offices and homes," said CWTA President & CEO Peter Barnes. "Increasing the number of Wi-Fi hotspots and making the user experience simpler with common connection methods and technology standards, as well as a brand identifier, creates a solid foundation for widespread Wi-Fi market adoption in Canada."
All public commercial hotspots operated by the carriers are branded consistently with the common hotspot identifier that was introduced at the announcement of this joint initiative in March 2004. When customers access Wi-Fi service in any location with the hotspot identifier they will be presented with an identical, browser-based login area that ensures a simple, consistent and secure experience. If user support is required, clients will continue to access their own carrier's customer service.
This initiative also simplifies payment options for customers. They can charge Wi-Fi usage at any of the branded hotspots to their existing wireless carrier bills. Clients may also use a credit card to pay for usage if they choose. Customers will pay their per-minute or subscription-based Wi-Fi rate outlined by their own service provider, regardless of which carrier operates the hotspot.
The carriers will continue to compete vigorously with each other, both for customers and Wi-Fi hotspot locations. However, as with other inter-carrier initiatives, such as inter-carrier text messaging, this Wi-Fi alliance will spur the growth of Wi-Fi across the country by providing Canada's more than 15 million wireless customers with Wi-Fi services as a natural extension to the ubiquitous wireless voice and data services they already enjoy.
With more than 500 carrier-run hotspots already operating across the country in a variety of locations, including coffee shops, restaurants, retail outlets, train stations, airports, golf courses, hotels, arenas and convention centres, accessing the Internet when and where it is needed is now even more convenient. Customers can also rest assured that their login details and account information remain secure when authenticating with the high level of security provided by Canada's licensed wireless service providers.
While this agreement is between the four national carriers, any other Canadian operator or hotspot owner who meets the requirements developed by the four carriers will be eligible for membership in the roaming alliance.