AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is spending $275 million to extend its U.S. footprint of public access hotspots in the U.S. to nearly 20,000 by buying WiFi operator Wayport Inc.

The all-cash deal for a hotspot operator may seem a little unusual when you consider that AT&T and its rivals are all hoping to put wide-area wireless broadband networks in place in over the next few years. For AT&T, however, there's a simple point to the acquisition: It and other operators are shipping far more devices with WiFi installed than ever before, be it smartphones or laptops.

AT&T says that nearly 300 million WiFi-enabled devices shipped in 2007, and expects to increase that number to almost 1 billion by the end of the decade.

AT&T has already taken over the Starbucks WiFi contract from T-Mobile US Inc. . The Wayport buyout will enable it to offer free WiFi services to its cutsomers in McDonald's, as well as Marriott Vacation Club and Four Seasons hotels. Wayport also has international roaming deals in place that allow it to give customers access to around 80,000 hotspots worldwide.

Of course, one of the key WiFi enabled devices for AT&T is the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone. The deal will enable AT&T to extend its coverage for that particular tranche of smartphone users, too.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:27:42 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M Here's the thing about WiFi -- it doesn't have to be good. It has to be ON. Period.

As AT&T would know, it's tough to gripe about customer service when there are no other options.

gbmorrison 12/5/2012 | 3:27:42 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M OK this is just anecdotal but I have used Wayport a couple of times in hotels over the years and it was not good, really buggy UI, slow speed, charge on the hotel bill of $25/day or something outrageous, and I remember once at a NYC hotel it would NOT work and I knew I'd been charged, I have to call to some guy in the basement of the hotel who just gives out the same password like "password" over and over. I mean, comically bad. But that's par for the course in NY hotels.
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:27:40 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M Well, supposedly AT&T will make the outlets free.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:27:36 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M Righto.

And that's going to be a huge advantage for them keeping connected to their customers even when they're not using the home phone or cell phone or DSL or U-verse.

Maybe it was expensive, but I think the access it gives them to customers in situations with no other access choice makes it worthwhile.

gbmorrison 12/5/2012 | 3:27:35 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M Crazy to think that it was only 2001 that AT&T spun off AT&T Wireless; it was only 1996 that AT&T could still get business customers to pay 25c/min for phone calls during the day. This AT&T is a completely different company, which is good for the shareholders that have hung on by their fingernails for the last 20 yrs.
dan.mcbride 12/5/2012 | 3:27:26 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M First Starbucks, now this? AT&T may have finally clued in to the fact that customers really don't care about "the network", or more precisely which network. What they DO care about coverage - regardless of the network. Now with a significant Wi-Fi footprint and dual mode phones under $200, attention needs to be paid to the connection, the login, and the hand-over technologies and procedures to make it a truly seamless mobile broadband experience. Go AT&T!
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:27:25 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M Reckon they could buy more companies to make it happen? Boingo would certainly give a much larger footprint. Some kind of FMC play to improve connectvity and handoff?

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:27:19 PM
re: AT&T Buys Wayport for $275M ATT should focus on fixing thier core cellular coverage and call quality. Compared to Verizon it is a joke...I switched long ago and would not change back for anything (unless they fix it up). Pretty easy to tell when someone is calling on ATT based on the jagged audio, dropouts and call drops.

And forget the stupid FMC stuff...ATT cannot even get the cellular network right...so they are going to hand in/out between WiFi??? Right. The message traffic to do that alone is overwhelming with any kind of traffic load. Furthermore hand in/out really does not provide much value...just lock on to new when idle...of course when using WiFi you probably will need to be charging quite frequently so mobiity (HO) is probably less of a concern :)

Sign In