AT&T Simplfies Wi-Fi Log-In On The iPhone - InformationWeek

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6/18/2009
09:10 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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AT&T Simplfies Wi-Fi Log-In On The iPhone

One nice thing that AT&T has done for its iPhone customers is give them free access to its Wi-Fi hotspots. The log-in process, however, is so heinously annoying that many just give up. Now, iPhones will automatically connect to an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, no clumsy log-in required.

One nice thing that AT&T has done for its iPhone customers is give them free access to its Wi-Fi hotspots. The log-in process, however, is so heinously annoying that many just give up. Now, iPhones will automatically connect to an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, no clumsy log-in required.The log-in process to use an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot was so bad that a third-party company created "an app for that." The app, called Easy Wi-Fi, simulated the log in process after you entered some basic information once. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it made life easier.

Now, AT&T has made it as simple as possible.

iPhone OS 3.0 now supports auto-authentication to sign into the Wi-Fi networks. I tested it out yesterday. While sitting in a Starbucks Coffee shop, which has AT&T Wi-Fi, I turned on the Wi-Fi radio of my iPhone (I had updated to OS 3.0 earlier in the day). The Wi-Fi app listed the available networks. I selected the AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot. Rather than asking me for any credentials, it simply connected. No fuss, no muss.

Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T, said in a prepared statement, "Auto-authentication makes it even easier for iPhone customers to stay connected on the nation's fastest 3G network and the nation's largest Wi-Fi network. With access to our U.S. hotspots, customers are receiving a great value, with a fast, reliable broadband connection virtually anywhere, through 3G or Wi-Fi."

What de la Vega fails to point out -- but is screamingly obvious -- is that by granting iPhone users free and easy access to Wi-Fi, AT&T is freeing up its network from the burdensome and taxing device. If uses are surfing the Web or downloading music or applications via Wi-Fi, they aren't using AT&T's 3G network. That means other people in the area will have a better experience, as more bandwidth is available. To me, this is a veiled admission that AT&T's network needs all the help it can get.

So, who is AT&T really helping out here?

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