AT&T’s Plan for NYC Data Congestion: Free Wi-Fi

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AT&T is rolling out a stopgap solution to its ongoing service woes in at least one major market: they hope to alleviate data congestion issues by blanketing New York City’s Times Square with free Wi-Fi.

Any current AT&T customers with 3G smartphones or mobile broadband cards, or who have AT&T as their high speed Internet provider, will be able to hop on to what is essentially a giant hotspot being installed in the north central area of Times Square. Smartphone users should even automatically be switched over from 3G service and connected to the hotspot when they come within acceptable range.

For now it’s just a pilot project, but if all goes well the company has said it will be considering free Wi-Fi implementations in other congested major markets in the U.S. It’s an interesting solution that shows the carrier is more than well aware of the service issues faced by customers in crowded locations, but it does leave other parts of the city (and country) out of luck for now.

What do you think of the idea of alleviating cell bandwidth woes by providing free Wi-Fi? And would it be enough to prevent mass exodus if AT&T were to lose iPhone exclusivity?

[via Boy Genius Report]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, SVLumagraphica

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