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It's official: AT&T offers iPhone owners free Wi-Fi

Web site, customer service reps tout free hot spot access, Starbucks included

May 8, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - AT&T Inc.'s on-again, off-again free Wi-Fi access for iPhone owners is back on as of today, with the carrier posting information about the service to its Web site.

Early on Thursday, the page dedicated to AT&T's subscriber plans for Apple's iPhone showed "Access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots" in a section that describes additional features of those plans.

The page also spelled out the extent of that free access. "Unlimited Data (e-mail and Web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T's more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots, including Starbucks* all for use in the U.S. *Wi-Fi available at U.S. company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hot spot [emphasis added]."

Several customer service representatives for the company confirmed by telephone today that the free wireless is now part of all iPhone plans.

Last week, iPhone users discovered that they could use AT&T's wireless access points in Starbucks coffee shops and other locations, including some Barnes & Noble bookstores. All that was required was their iPhone telephone number.

But the free access lasted little more than a day before AT&T turned off the Wi-Fi. By Friday, users reported that they were being asked to enter a username and password to access hot spots they had used for free the day before.

Some speculated that AT&T yanked the access because it had been easy to trick the hot spot into offering the free wireless to anyone armed with an iPhone number, not only to people using an iPhone.

Computerworld had confirmed the on-again, off-again free Wi-Fi access at multiple Starbucks stores in Eugene, Ore. AT&T, however, repeatedly declined to comment last week when asked about the appearance and disappearance of the wireless service.

Today, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel again offered "no comment" when asked about the newest information on his company's Web site.

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