Wireless carriers: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Just when one of them does something that makes you angry and want to switch, the turn around and do something nice that makes you think twice about leaving. It’s a codependent relationship, really. In this case, AT&T is the questionable boyfriend—or girlfriend, as the case may be. Right on the heels of their announcement that they’re raising the Early Termination Fee (ETF) on smartphones, they go and start giving away Wi-Fi for free. Granted, it’s only in one location, but it’s a key location that has been plagued by network connectivity issues. Since AT&T started offering the iPhone via its exclusive, and seemingly interminable contract with Apple, customers in places like New York and San Francisco have been having a heck of a time with their wireless service. Calls are dropped, downloads are slow, or there’s just no service at all in an area where there should be. AT&T has been blaming the iPhone for all the traffic jams on their network, claiming that the 3 percent of their customers who are iPhone users are responsible for 40 percent of network usage. It doesn’t look like things will be getting better anytime soon, either. For a while, AT&T was working on improving and expanding their 3G network, but now 3G is becoming passe in favor of 4G. The company is building a 4G network, and plans to launch it sometime next year. Meanwhile, Sprint has already launched their 4G network, and Verizon’s will be up and running by the end of this year. AT&T is too busy playing keep up and catch up with all the 4G happenings to spend much more time and money on their 3G problems. So what does a carrier do when they don’t have time to deal with network issues? Offer something for free! On Tuesday, the company began offering free Wi-Fi via a hotspot in New York City’s Times Square. The hotspot is located on Seventh Avenue between 45th and 47th streets. AT&T customers can access the network with laptops, smartphones, and other Wi-Fi devices. The carrier wants to gauge how Wi-Fi access can alleviate the congestion on its 3G network. If this initial experiment is successful, and provides good results, they may do the same thing in other cities. If you live in or are visiting New York, and you’re an AT&T customer, and you happen to be in that one small area at some point, check it out.
AT&T offers free Wi-Fi in NYC
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