AT&T to acquire Wi-Fi network provider Wayport

AT&T announced plans on Thursday to acquire Wi-Fi network provider Wayport in an estimated $275 million cash deal.

The acquisition expands the AT&T Wi-Fi footprint to nearly 20,000 domestic hotspots, takes the company's global Wi-Fi presence to more than 80,000 locations, and creates thousands of new ways for customers worldwide to stay in touch. Millions of AT&T customers — plus millions of other consumers needing to connect on the go — will benefit from access to new hotspot locations served by Wayport. Wayport hotspots are in key locations, including select Wyndham, Marriott Vacation Club and Four Seasons hotels; HealthSouth and Sun Healthcare locations; plus McDonald's restaurants. this service will be free only to customers of certain plans.

"We're seeing exponential growth of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as smartphones, combined with a continued dependency on 24-7, anytime, anywhere Internet access across business and consumer market segments," John Stankey, chief executive of operations for AT&T, said in a statement.

The telecommunications giant, which is the official U.S. wireless provider for Apple's popular iPhone, last week announced that iPhone users will get free Wi-Fi access at all of its hot-spot locations. AT&T did not immediately respond to others' requests for comment regarding the free usage of the Wayport hot spots to iPhone users.

Under the Wayport deal, AT&T will not only be getting additional hot-spot locations, but also its back-office management provider for its existing footprint of AT&T hot-spot locations. This will bring its Wi-Fi infrastructure entirely under its own roof.

AT&T expects to close the deal as early as this current quarter.

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