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Verizon to Piggyback Wayport

U.S. mobile operator Verizon Wireless is following in the footsteps of rival AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) with plans to offer hotspot access via Wayport Inc.'s network of North American 802.11 access points.

AT&T Wireless announced its plans to work with hotspot aggregator Wayport back in January (see AT&T's Hotspot High Noon), while Verizon Wireless is expected to announce its plans at the CTIA Wireless 2003 show in New Orleans this week, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Wayport currently offers high-speed wireless access at more than 500 hotels and 15 airports, with more airport connections to come from a recent deal (see Wayport Adds Airport Hotspots). Most of these are in the U.S., with a small minority in Canada and Europe.

While Verizon and AT&T Wireless are choosing to partner in order to offer their customers hotspot access, rival U.S. mobile operator T-Mobile USA is building out and managing its own network of 802.11 access points (see T-Mobile: WLAN Loner).

And with expansion in the public access market in Europe, too, the hotspot market is set for massive growth in coming years, if projections from research company Analysys are anything to go by. It believes the hotspot sector will be worth $5.5 billion in 2007, compared with just $33.4 million in 2002 (see Hotspots: Getting Hotter? ).

(To take this month's poll on public wireless LAN services, visit: Who Put the P in PWLAN?).

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung

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