Mobile operator O2 has announced O2 Wifi, a public wireless internet platform that will be available throughout the UK for mobile users on any carrier.
O2 promises the service will be entirely free for all customers to use regardless of which mobile or broadband provider they are signed up with.
The new platform will go into direct competition with BT Openzone and The Cloud, and aims to have twice as many hotspots as its rivals combined by 2013.
Access to the O2 Wifi hotspots will be through a simple sign-up process, which will be opened up initially to O2 customers by the end of the year. All hotspots will be premium public hotspots, with no reliance on residential connections.
The move will mean O2 stepping away from its current involvement with both BT Openzone and The Cloud. It will begin by replacing its 450 Cloud hotspots in its retail and office locations and will add further venues through partnerships with the likes of shops, restaurants and other retail outlets.
The carrier hopes making its service as simple as possible to use will mean more than the current 20% of subscribers will actively use public Wi-Fi, especially considering that more and more new phones feature the technology to take advantage.