4. March 2013–
Deutsche Telekom is partnering with global WiFi network Fon to bring millions of new hotspots to Germany and five other countries in Europe.
Fon, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Madrid, claims nine million subscribers and eight million hotspots worldwide, which it says makes it the world's largest WiFi network. There's a crowdsourcing twist: Fon allows users who agree to share a bit of their home WiFi to access the hotspots in its network free of charge.
The partnership with Deutsche Telekom, named WLAN TO GO, will run on similar lines. Deutsche Telekom customers who sign up for the service will enjoy access to the eight million hotspots already in the network.
On top of that, Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann said in a statement today, the telco will aim to set up more than 2.5 million extra hotspots in Germany by 2016. That's a major boost – by comparison, Deutsche Telekom currently spans 12 million broadband lines and about 12,000 hotspots.
Fon is already active in the UK, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Croatia (among other countries – see map above). Deutsche Telekom will roll out WLAN TO GO in Germany in partnership with Fon this year and will also use its national companies to launch Fon in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.
The deal is not just a nice new offer for Deutsche Telekom's customers – it will help manage the ever-increasing data load on its mobile networks.
As the statement today puts it:
The partnership with Fon is an additional step toward the gigabit society. A technology mix that supports the seamless use of mobile, fixed-network and WiFi communication is absolutely essential to keep burgeoning data volumes under control. WiFi and hotspots can be used to divert heavy data traffic to fixed-line networks and thus reduce the load on mobile networks.
Deutsche Telekom has pledged to invest €30bn in networks, IT and products by 2016. Last week, it reported stable revenue but a €5.25bn bottom-line loss for 2012, attributed to a major accounting write-down with subsidiary T-Mobile USA.
Wifi: flickr user Â°Florian