AT&T (T), one of North America’s largest mobile carrier announced Thursday that it has agreed to acquire privately-held Wayport, Inc., a leading Wi-Fi broadband internet access provider based in Austin, Texas for approximately $275 million in cash.
The acquisition complements AT&T’s ability to deliver a complete end-to-end solution for businesses worldwide with Wayport’s experience in managing business applications and public access to the Internet over a single network.
The deal also largely expands the number of AT&T WiFi hotspots (venues that offer internet access over a wireless LAN) in the U.S. to nearly 20,000 by adding locations at some Wyndham (WYN), Marriott Vacation Club (MAR) and Four Seasons (FS) hotels; HealthSouth (HLSH) and Sun Healthcare (SUNH) locations; as well as McDonald’s (MCD) restaurants.
The integration of Wayport’s operations takes AT&T’s global Wi-Fi presence to more than 80,000 locations, creating thousands of new ways for customers worldwide to stay in touch.
“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,” said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations. “Now is the right time for AT&T to affirm our commitment to Wi-Fi leadership. By acquiring Wayport… we’re bringing ready access to the nation’s leading Wi-Fi, wireless and IP networks — on a global scale.”
The combined company will be able to provide a comprehensive solution for businesses seeking converged and managed network capabilities and will deliver a more cost-effective and streamlined service for enterprises – and their customers.
“AT&T’s premier capabilities in both the enterprise and consumer industries will take Wayport’s strength in delivering Wi-Fi solutions over converged networks to an entirely new level,” said Dave Vucina, chairman and chief executive officer of Wayport.
Nearly 300 million Wi-Fi-enabled devices were shipped in 2007. Nearly 1 billion are predicted by 2012.
AT&T recently allowed its iPhone and BlackBerry Bold customers to get free WiFi access to all of its hotspots in the country.