Telefonica says its new Universal Wi-Fi service can help carriers lower soaring mobile roaming rates for business travellers

Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica S.A. has forged an agreement with airports and hotel chains around the world to launch Wi-Fi access to business travelers covering more than 1 million hotspots in 110 countries.

Mobile roaming bills tend to be a sore spot for business travelers forced to use cellular networks to access the Internet. Telefonica said its Universal Wi-Fi service gives carriers and operators the opportunity to provide corporate customers lower rates by allowing them to connect to Telefonica’s international network, both in their home country and abroad.

The company said its system can help relieve an operator’s home network and substantially reduce capital expenses and operational expenses by “alternating the use of Wi-Fi networks when available with the use of 3G networks.”

“Universal Wi-Fi is a custom-made service which allows you to choose coverage for each customer according to their mobility,” the company said in a statement. “The service is controlled by an application for both mobile devices and laptops which will handle all of the authentication process transparently for the user and connects to any of the agreed hotspots.”

The service will also provide a Web portal for managing user accounts and to provide reports on service usage.

So far, the firm has partnered  with Gogo, a company that provides in-flight Wi-Fi for airline carriers such as Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airline, United Airlines and Virgin America. Among the hotels that have signed up are the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Sheraton chains.

The service is controlled by a connection manager installed on the user’s device. The connection manager is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows OS and Mac OS systems.

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