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BTOpenzone and Fon UK WiFi Hotspot Services Renamed to BT Wi-fi

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 (11:28 am) - Score 4,853

BT has, without much fanfare, rebranded its public wireless (wifi) hotspot business from BTOpenzone to the more understandable title of BT Wi-fi. The move will also bring its BTFon service together under the same name.

The vast majority of BT’s over 4 million wifi hotspots actually come from customers of their fixed line Total Broadband ISP packages, many of whom freely share their home WiFi out over the operators FON service with other customers and BTOpenzone users.

BTWi-fi CEO, Andy Baker, said:

As tablets and smartphones have become increasingly popular, connecting to the internet through wi-fi has become more relevant. We are proud to offer our customers free access to one of the biggest wi-fi networks in the world and wanted to make it easier for our customers to find a hotspot and get online, it made sense for us to bring our estate under one unified brand.”

BT claims that 21,000 people log on to BT Wi-fi every minute during peak times and more than 1 billion wifi minutes were used over the last three months on its service. Its international coverage also expands to a total of 6 million hotspots in over 100 countries.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    its one of the biggest curses in our village, everyone’s smart gadgets lock on to someone else’s bt fons or openzones and ignore their own wifi networks. Older people can’t get a connection as they don’t know how to, and volunteers have to keep going round and sorting them out. I have an openzone password but can never get a connection from it worth using. its all a bit of a con if you ask me. Ok in an emergency if you can’t get anything else, but vastly over rated as the feed to it is usually rubbish through a phone line. Now if it was fed from fibre, and if the access point was outside a property providing really good wifi it would be a different ball game, that would be grand.

    1. Avatar Tom says:

      Exactly what you said. I get calls every week from people who have set their laptops or phones to connect to OpenZone by mistake and don’t know how to undo it.

      Plus.. as you experienced, it is rare to find an OpenZone that
      a) Allows you to even obtain an IP
      b) Allows you to bring up the captive portal sign in web page
      c) Accepts your login details!

      That, twinned with the fact that everyone seems to be opted in by default – even though BT claim they ask the question at sign up! – They did not for me and I was “opted in”.
      Convenient, not reliable and a bit of a con as BT basically tout and resell the connection that you are already paying them for!

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      IMO you should never allow automatic connection to any public wifi network as that exposes you to all sorts of potential hacks and other exploits.

    3. Avatar Tom says:

      Sadly, Mark, not everyone knows this and even less understand how you configure things to work in such a way.

    4. Avatar FibreFred says:

      ^ So .. its a user issue then not a service problem?

    5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @Chris
      Quote “Now if it was fed from fibre, and if the access point was outside a property providing really good wifi it would be a different ball game, that would be grand.”

      I think there are to separate issues here. Firstly, the siting of the hotspot will make a difference to the signal quality, and clearly the type of line used to the hotspot will have no bearing on the signal. Secondly the bandwidth connecting to the hotspot, although quite why people assume a fibre connection automatically has more bandwidth available is beyond me.

      For example, IIRC the planning assumptions published for your B4RN project have roughly the same amount of bandwidth per user as my FTTC connection. My link could just as easily have been fibre, yours could have been copper given the bandwidth required.

      I personally use wi-fi a lot, find it invaluable for connecting whilst travelling, indeed I am currently connected via an Openzone (BT wi-fi) hotspot. The connection is very simple, usually just needing an id and password, although in the coffee shop it’s free so you just click on the confirmatory message and you’re on line. Very helpful to have this, and not usually difficult to find a hotspot in most parts given the coverage, even in more remote areas of Cornwall.

      So good to have and not a great chore to access, although I agree with MarkJ’s comment about not enabling auto connection. Good advice.

  2. Avatar Tom says:

    Both. There really should be some sort of test before you are allowed on the internet.

  3. Avatar Deduction says:

    Or decent instructions for the equipment supplied for people to set it up correctly.

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