Wi-Fi Billing Done Right

I was very excited to read that T-Mobile will finally go where no wireless carrier has been willing to go and offer both discounted Wi-Fi for existing customers and the simplicity of unified billing (for the entire article, see T-Mobile bundles Wi-Fi, cellular services | CNET News.com). As I mentioned in an earlier post, I consider myself a “power” consumer of technology, but even I am unwilling to pay broadband access prices for 802.11b speeds and coverage, especially if it means having to sign up with a new carrier.

Will T-Mobile’s decision usher in a new era of better Wi-Fi deals for consumers? I sure hope so. As a consumer, there are two big complaints that I have regarding my wireless life:

Billing – I have had more issues with AT&T Wireless’ billing department than I care to mention in the context of this blog. Also, I, like many other customers, am very wary of anything that requires me to sign up for a new contract with a new carrier. If Sprint PCS orAT&T Wireless offered me the option of unlimited Boingo or Wayport access for a marginal fee on my existing bill, I would probably sign up for. The idea of signing up with a new carrier with a new contract is thoroughly unappealing to me.

Coverage – If I am going to plunk down $50 for unlimited Wi-Fi access, I have fairly high expectations about how prevalent the coverage should be and how reliable the service ought to be. However, for 40% of that, I would be willing to tolerate far lower quality in terms of coverage density and reliability — after all I am only paying $20 per month.

It is my sincere hope that other carriers such as AT&T Wireless, Verizon, and Sprint PCS band together and use some combination of Boingo, Cometa, iPass, and Wayport to make this a standard offering for all consumers.