AT&T made a very strategic acquisition today, picking up Wayport for a col $275 million. This is a very smart move and shows that AT&T is investing to put more traffic onto its IP network, and also is looking beyond 3G and traditional GSM as the only access routes, beyond DSL and T1.
While AT&T has had their rebranded FreedomLink service that is now called AT&T WiFi, it largely has been sold as a way for the wholesale team to generate revenue. This acquisition changes the game and gives them wider distribution via more access points that Wayport already has, as an added inducement for people to be AT&T Wireless customers or uVerse customers.
What's more this makes the cable guys efforts like what Cablevision is starting to do in the Metro New York area with customer accessible WiFi really important, as the cable operators are ideally positioned with fiber in the ground to put hotspots everywhere.
Who also wins in this deal? Client Boingo. They already have roaming agreements with both Wayport and AT&T. That means non-AT&T customers can use their Boingo credential to get on if their not using uVerse or AT&T Wireless or already subscribing to AT&T WiFi. If I was a Tier Two mobile operator's Biz Dev person (think Metro PCS or Cricket), I'd be working out a deal with Boingo to give customers WiFi access in the Boingo roaming hotspots to keep my customers from jumping away. As a customer retention tactic, WiFi roaming may be one key to keeping the customer.
This is also a hedge against encroachment from XOHM in the Mobile WiMax market. AT&T now can offer WiFi access in more places. XOHM can say that just yet and not for some time. Lastly, it gives the AT&T Enterprise sales team a huge new offer to make and sell in to their very wide and deep customer base.
Overall, this is a vary Machiavellian move by using territory to establish greater control by AT&T...Well done.