UPC Romania launches FON-like ‘Wi-Free’

30 Oct 2014

UPC Romania, the country’s second largest cable network operator, announced on Tuesday that its 400,000-plus broadband internet customers can now access Wi-Fi internet hotspots on mobile devices for free at more than 200,000 access points under the ‘Wi-Free’ banner, reports HotNews.ro. UPC clarified that all registered users of the service must share access on their own Wi-Fi connection at home with other Wi-Free registered members; if the user chooses to deactivate the Wi-Free network on their home modem they consequently lose access to the national free Wi-Fi network. UPC notes that subscribers will also have free access to millions of other Wi-Fi access points across European countries served by the cableco’s parent Liberty Global, as well as other European states and in the US via an agreement between Liberty Global and Comcast.

Among other network operators in Romania, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that the country’s largest cableco and leading fixed broadband provider RCS&RDS provides its own Wi-Fi hotspot network in cities nationwide, with 2,265 hotspots available for its ‘Digi’ mobile subscribers and fixed network customers at July 2014, although the total was down from the 2,400 hotspots it claimed a year earlier. Former monopoly fixed line operator Telekom Romania (formerly RomTelecom), which has integrated its operations with its mobile sister company, has offered public Wi-Fi access since 2008 although deploying a lesser number of hotspots compared to RCS&RDS; since July 2014, however, Telekom Romania has offered free access to the FON public Wi-Fi network (which currently has over 13 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide) based on users agreeing to share their home Wi-Fi connection. Romania-insider.com writes that Orange Romania, the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, had deployed around 400 Wi-Fi access points by August 2014 and by year-end aims to reach 1,000 hotspots.