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Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Sprint to expand `Wi-Fi' service around the US

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Sprint Corp, the third-largest US long-distance telephone company, has become the latest carrier to offer wireless-fidelity Internet access in hotels and airports, joining rivals such as AT&T Corp.

Sprint plans to sell so-called Wi-Fi service through its PCS mobile-phone unit at 800 US locations in the next several months and 2,100 spots by year's end, the Overland Park, Kansas-based company said in a statement.

The high-speed service allows travelers to use laptop computers to wirelessly access company data networks at hotels and other public places.

More US phone companies are beginning to sell the service as a way to counter declining revenue from local and long-distance phone businesses.

Companies such as Intel Corp are trying to create more public Wi-Fi "hotspots" where people can send e-mails or browse Web sites.

Intel, which makes chips that allow for wireless Internet connections, is working with Boeing Co, Starbucks Corp and McDonald's Corp as their planes, cafes and restaurants roll out wireless services.

Sprint said it will sell service through roaming agreements with Airpath Wireless Inc and Wayport Inc, which manage Wi-Fi access spots.

AT&T, the largest US long-distance phone company, earlier this month said it will offer Wi-Fi access in 2,000 locations in the fourth quarter. It plans to have 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in the 50 largest US cities by 2005.

The company trails AT&T and WorldCom Inc. in US long-distance phone sales. Its PCS wireless unit is the fourth-largest US mobile-phone company.

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