Sprint, SBC to let Wi-Fi users access both networks

| 9/1/2004

Truckers who use Wi-Fi could soon access the Internet at a much larger number of hot spots, thanks to a new deal between Sprint and SBC Communications.

The two companies recently announced an agreement that will allow their customers to use both companies’ networks, much like cell phones that use roaming. Internet users would use their existing user IDs and passwords, and would pay through their current billing agreements.

SBC’s Wi-Fi network includes more than 2,300 hot spots nationwide, including airports, hotels, coffee shops and The UPS Store and MailBoxes Etc. locations. SBC plans to make more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots available to customers by the end of 2006 by working with Cingular Wireless and other companies.

Sprint is focusing on providing Wi-Fi in areas such as airports, hotels, convention centers and other public venues. The firm plans to offer at least 10,000 hot spots to its customers by the end of the year.

Sprint now has more than 2,600 Wi-Fi hot spots in locations such as the Kansas City, MO, Salt Lake City and Louisville, KY, airports; the Addison, TX, convention center; and the Tysons Corner, VA, shopping center. However, most of those hot spots are available through roaming agreements with AT&T Wireless, AirPath, WayPort, STSN and TruckStop.net.

The Overland Park, KS-based company Sprint will offer SBC customers the roaming option at only those hot spots owned by Sprint. And customers of Truckstop.net, which has a similar agreement with Sprint, will not be able to use SBC hot spots under the pact.

Truckstop.net announced late last year that it would offer the high-speed Internet service at as many as 3,000 truck stops nationwide through a deal with Sprint. Pilot Travel Centers, one of the largest truck stop chains, joined that network in December.