In an effort to compete better with cable companies, Verizon (VZ) will offer free wi-fi roaming service to its home broadband subscribers, the WSJ reports. Verizon is reportedly close to partnering with Boingo, a wi-fi startup, for the service. It’ll likely be free for Verizon DSL and FiOS broadband subs.
A quick Boingo search turns up Starbucks, McDonald’s, and even LaGuardia and Newark Airport hotspots in the New York area.
Smart move, but we’d note that Verizon isn’t the first to come up with this idea. AT&T (T) has offered its subscribers free wi-fi roaming access for months, which became especially useful when it took over the Starbucks (SBUX) wi-fi network last year.
And Cablevision, Verizon’s rival on Long Island, is building out its own wi-fi network that covers its service area, which it expects to finish next year. Last month, Cablevision said that its subscribers have accessed the wi-fi network 1 million times.
Sadly, Verizon’s dream customer — a FiOS subscriber with a BlackBerry Storm on Verizon Wireless — wouldn’t be able to use this service with their smartphone, because Verizon and RIM decided not to ship it with wi-fi. Silly move.