Verizon Turns On Free Wi-Fi

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Verizon is offering most of its broadband customers free access to more than 13,000 Wi-Fi connections across the U.S. -- at hotels, airports, restaurants, coffee shops and other locations -- through a deal with Boingo Wireless.

Other providers offer similar Wi-Fi services, including Cablevision Systems, a key Verizon competitor in the New York metropolitan area. Cablevision is spending about $300 million on a project to provide Wi-Fi access in high-traffic areas to Optimum Online customers.

AT&T also provides free Wi-Fi access to its broadband customers, extending its footprint to more than 20,000 hotspots with the acquisition last fall of privately held Wayport.

Verizon's free Wi-Fi is available to all current broadband customers, but some new customer won't be able to access it.

To connect to the Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots at no additional charge, new Verizon FiOS Internet customers must order a 25 Mbps downstream / 15 Mbps upstream or faster connection and DSL customers must order 3 Mbps/768 Kbps or faster connection.

Meanwhile, the service works only with Windows Vista or XP-based laptops and netbooks, and is not compatible with Macintosh, Windows XP 64-bit, or Windows 7 operating systems. While Verizon said access for other wireless-enabled devices, such as PDAs, is expected to be offered at a future date.

Verizon originally inked the deal with Boingo Wireless in 2003; the companies have extended the deal for an additional four years. Under the new contract, Verizon has the right to extend services previously provided to Verizon Business to other business units.

"Verizon is one of our longest-standing platform services partners, and the renewal and expansion of this agreement is further validation of our turnkey offering," Boingo president and CEO Dave Hagan said in a statement.

Verizon provides a searchable list of the 13,850 Wi-Fi hotspot locations in the U.S. at www.verizon.net/hotspots.

Separately Monday, Verizon announced financial results for the second quarter, bringing its total FiOS TV subscriber rolls to more than 2.5 million, and also said it would eliminate an additional 8,000 jobs this year.

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