AT&T snaps up Wayport to gain Wi-Fi boost

AT&T has expanded the scope of its Wi-Fi business by purchasing Wayport, a network and applications management company that provides back-office management for Wi-Fi hot spots.

Wayport, headquartered in Irving, Texas, specializes in providing wireless-network management for several big companies, including Four Seasons hotels and McDonald’s restaurants.

By acquiring Wayport for US$275 million, AT&T will expand its Wi-Fi footprint to roughly 20,000 locations in the United States and more than 80,000 locations around the world. AT&T customers will have access to all the newly added Wi-Fi hot spots, the company says, and will be able to connect for free using their AT&T-enabled smartphones and laptops.

“We’re seeing exponential growth of Wi-Fi devices,” says John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T Operations. “We’re giving consumers more ways to stay in touch, and building a more robust network-management solution for businesses.” (View a slide show of recent mergers and acquisitions.)

In addition to gaining more Wi-Fi hot spots, AT&T will take over Wayport’s Wi-Fi management infrastructure to provide enterprise customers with managed Wi-Fi services. Because Wayport already provides back-office management for AT&T’s hot spots, the company will save money and be able to deliver its own customized applications to its Wi-Fi users, AT&T says. In particular, it could provide enterprise customers with such applications as inventory management, remote employee learning, point-of-sale applications and remote security monitoring, the company said.

AT&T expanded its Wi-Fi footprint earlier this year when it began deploying its Wi-Fi services to 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide.

Last year, the company announced that it had chosen content-delivery network service provider Akamai to provide hundreds of Starbucks stores with content-delivery servers to help speed up their Wi-Fi iTunes Music Stores.

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