Last year I made a big mistake. I took out a contract, at £15 per month, for BT OpenZone hotspots. These hotspots come up so frequently, particularly in Central London, that it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, the rigmarole of accessing the service completely spoils the user experience. The username, which is not user changeable, is unmemorable and, even if you choose a memorable accompanyingn password, it’s still necessary to consult 1Password every time you want to log on.
To make matters worse, you have to keep the login page open and then remember to exit when you’ve finished. This is a pain on iOS devices and, frankly, I just stopped using the service. I am in effect paying £15 a month for nothing and I cannot wait for the contract to expire.
Now, though, there is a new wifi hotspot standard coming along and I am encouraged to see that BT is involved. Under this new standard, a device is registered once and then connects automatically, just like it would to a home network or favourite cafe.
Here’s what Wireless Broadband Alliance chairman Chris Bruce had to say about the trial’s recent completion:
The complementary relationship between Wi-Fi and mobile networks is finally becoming a reality. Next Generation Hotspots allow smartphones and tablets to automatically roam from the cellular network on to Wi-Fi hotspots thereby augmenting the coverage and capacity of both. Fixed and mobile operators alike are leading a Wi-Fi hotspot renaissance in a renewed effort to sate the seemingly unquenchable desire for ubiquitous broadband connectivity. What has made this trial so unique is that the key players from both the mobile operator community and the Wi-Fi ecosystem have actively come together and supported each other for this industry-wide program. The future is a great broadband experience that operates over all sorts of different technologies.
It cannot come soon enough for me. And, if it does I could be persuaded to renew my BT contract.