Third time's a charm: Free Wi-Fi at AT&T hotspots for all iPhone owners

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It appears AT&T has finally made good on its promise to give iPhone owners free access to Wi-Fi service at its hotspots around the country. I say “appears,” because we’ve seen this before — at least twice — and both times the service was promptly yanked from existence.

About six months ago I was in a Starbucks with my iPhone. I was automatically connected to their AT&T Wi-Fi, and when I opened up my web browser it took me to an AT&T page asking for my iPhone phone number. I put it in and was granted free Wi-Fi access. A great deal, right? The next day I went back and it was gone.

A couple months later, a page on AT&T’s site trumpeted the arrival of free Wi-Fi for iPhone owners. This wasn’t just at Starbucks, but any of AT&T’s over 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. The only problem? The service wasn’t actually deployed yet, and the page was taken down.

Now, over three months after that, AT&T looks ready to go with the option. Several iPhone users have received text messages about the free Wi-Fi service, which directs them to this page, which reads:

AT&T knows Wi-Fi is hot, and FREE Wi-Fi is even hotter. Which is why FREE AT&T Wi-Fi access is now available for Apple iPhone at thousands of hotspots nationwide, including Starbucks*. Users can relax and access music, email and web browsing services with their favorite blend in hand from the comfort of their nearest location.

I have no idea what took AT&T so long to implement this service, since I was actually using it six months ago. Hopefully, this time, AT&T actually does know what’s hot: A promised service that actually works.

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