Orange has significantly boosted its UK Wi-Fi coverage, striking a deal with wireless hotspot operator The Cloud that gives customers access to more than 7,500 additional Wi-Fi networks.
Orange already has Wi-Fi agreements in place with BT OpenZone, France Telecom and WeRoam, and according to an Orange spokesperson, the deal "dramatically increases" the number of hotspots that can be accessed by Orange business customers. In total, Orange customers can access more than 10,000 wireless hotspots.
Orange says the addition of The Cloud's 7,500 UK hotspots extends its Wi-Fi access to more than 10,000 hotspots. The operator also says it is now able to offer access "to one of the UK's widest Wi-Fi networks", through its 'Orange WiFi Access service'.
"Our business customers want easy-to-use, secure communication. They are less worried about who owns the infrastructure and naturally more interested in a service that works effectively," said Anthony Keyworth, director of products at Orange Business Services.
Orange WiFi Access is accessed through Orange's Business Everywhere plans. A single data card accesses Wi-Fi, HSDPA, 3G, EDGE, GPRS and 2G networks, and automatically chooses the fastest possible connection.
There is little surprise that Orange is pitching the deal for its business users. A recent survey found that business people were driving the use of Wi-Fi hotspots across the world to new highs, particularly at airports and hotels.
Wi-Fi connectivity will be bundled in some of Orange’s new Business Everywhere plans.
For example an 'Unlimited' plan costs £25 per month (ex VAT) and gives the user unlimited (subject to fair play policy) internet access. Within a Wi-Fi hotspot, the plan includes 250 data minutes free of charge (UK only), and then it charges 8 pence per minute thereafter.
The more expensive Traveller plan costs from £45 per month (ex VAT), and again allows unlimited Internet access in the UK. In a hotspot (UK and abroad) users get 250 data minutes free of charge, and are then charged at 8 pence per minute thereafter.
Earlier this year The Cloud switched on a Wi-Fi network across the entire of the City of London, which it claimed would provide users with cellular-like coverage. The company has also struck a deal with Apple, giving iPhone users access to its hotspots across the UK.