AT&T to expand public Wi-Fi 'hotzones' in NYC

Now even more Times Square revelers can text about how they really, really have to go to the bathroom

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AT&T on Tuesday announced plans to expand its Wi-Fi public hotzones to new locations in major U.S. markets.

The wireless carrier will start by expanding its existing Wi-Fi hotzone in New York's Times Square and adding hotzones near Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

AT&T also will launch a Wi-Fi hotzone in San Francisco’s popular Embarcadero Center early next year.

“Our initial AT&T Wi-Fi hotzones have received great customer response and supported high data traffic,” John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, said in a statement. “The pilot demonstrated the clear benefits of having fast and readily-available Wi-Fi options for our customers and our network, and so we have decided to deploy hotzones in more locations.”

Earlier this year, AT&T created Wi-Fi hotzones in Times Square, downtown Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago’s Wrigleyville section as part of a project to explore the use of Wi-Fi to supplement mobile broadband in urban areas with consistently high mobile broadband use.

San Francisco and New York each have high concentrations of iPhone users, which has been a burden on AT&T's often-criticized wireless network. With Verizon Wireless about to begin selling Apple's popular smartphone, AT&T faces the prospect of millions of unhappy iPhone users switching carriers.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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