"You can see a scenario where they will try and lock up these kinds of agreements to be able to create that type of user experience," Marshall said. In this pursuit, "AT&T is further along than the other operators in the U.S.," he said.
Under the partnership, AT&T also has the right to include Boingo's U.S. hotspots in its data plans if it chooses, said Christian Gunning, Boingo's vice president of corporate communications.
The partnership will also benefit subscribers to Boingo's paid Wi-Fi service, which gets users onto thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in stores, hotels, restaurants and other areas. Those subscribers will now be able to use AT&T's hotspots in the U.S., which cover Home Depot stores, FedEx locations, and other retail and dining destinations, Gunning said. That will increase the number of paid hotspots that Boingo subscribers can use in the U.S. from about 10,000 to about 15,000, and make it easier for them to get onto free networks operated by AT&T, such as at Starbucks and McDonald's, he said.
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