at&t Adding New WiFi Hotspots, Targeting Crowded Places

With New Year’s eve around the corner, at&t just decided to deploy additional WiFi hotspots throughout the nation, with a first wave of new hotspots slated to be installed in crowded places, such as New York’s Times Square, as well as San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Since iPhones and iPads with an active at&t data plan can automatically connect to at&t’s hotspots for free, the Dallas-based company is betting on the additional WiFi coverage to help offload some traffic from its busy 3G network. If successful, the move will help increase the overall quality of at&t’s 3G network, especially during peak periods such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. While the additional WiFi capacity will be welcomed by many iOS users lucky enough to live and work near the crowded places targeted by at&t, the expansion is not necessarily a perfect solution: even if it offers good data throughput, WiFi severely restricts the end-users’ mobility, and does not support voice calls. But the need for extra data coverage and capacity seems urgent, and the company chose WiFi as a quick and cheap fix: WiFi access points are easy to find, and a lot less pricey than 3G radio base stations. The next locations on at&t’s list are large stadiums, as well as several densely populated areas.