BT Openzone

BT Openzone

BT Openzone is a Wi-Fi hotspot service provided by BT Group. BT operates around 4,000 wireless stations in the UK, located in public locations such as cafés, hotels, pubs, stations and airports; BT's network accounts for 40% of the UK's wifi hotspot population.[1] Premises with BT's business hub (an ADSL broadband router aimed at small business premises) can opt to enable BT Openzone functionality on their equipment (allowing roaming Openzone customers to connect via a firewalled network). [2] BT has also adapted some of its population of public phone boxes to include an Openzone hotspot.[3]

Access can be gained through "pre-paid vouchers" purchasable over the counter at the hotspot locations, or via BT's website. Members of the BT FON community can obtain access to BT FON, BT Openzone and FON hotspots only (not via a roaming partners i.e T-Mobile , NTT Communications) free of charge after joining the scheme. BT also has deals with large UK mobile phone companies O2 (United Kingdom), Vodafone, and Orange U.K. to provide internet access for their subscribers, particularly to those with smart phones such as the Apple iPhone[1] or HTC Desire. In Germany there is a free Openzone hotspot in nearly every Starbucks.

Non-BT FON users, i.e. those from abroad or those who have purchased a La Fonera router from FON, may only login to the BT FON designated BT Openzone hotspots which are in general in domestic premises.

This has caused problems though, as BT FON routers also transmit the SSID BTOpenzone meaning smartphones which have previously been connected to BT Openzone try and connect to FON hotspots which require a FON account due to the SSID being recognised as a previous connection. Access is denied as the smartphone coverage is limited to the cafe service, often referred to as the premium service. Unless the user browses a web page, they will not generally receive the FON login page and their smartphone will appear to have lost internet connectivity. BT seem to have rectified this in a firmware update for their BT FON routers where they now display BTOpenzone-h with the "-h" suffix designating a home router and the smartphone will now ignore the hotspot.


BT Openzone are roaming partners with the following wifi companies around the world:


  1. ^ a b Maija Palmer (January 2 2010). "Wi-fi hotspots set for surge as demand soars". Financial Times. 
  2. ^ Bill Ray (3rd March 2009). "BT OpenZone: Is it or isn't it? - Hotspot controversy stoked by ambiguity". The Register. 
  3. ^ "Wi-fi future for UK's phone boxes". BBC News. 16 September, 2003. 

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