BT Openzone

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BT Openzone
Industry Telecommunications
Owner BT Group
Current status Active

BT Openzone is a Wi-Fi hotspot service provided by BT Group. BT Openzone is accessible at more than 4,000,000 wireless stations[1] 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. 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, but not via a roaming partner, free of charge after joining the scheme. BT also has deals with large UK mobile phone companies Vodafone and EE to provide internet access for their subscribers, particularly to those with smart phones. In Germany there is a free Openzone hotspot in nearly every Starbucks.

Originally, non-BT FON users, that is those from abroad or those who have purchased a La Fonera router from FON, could only log-in to the BT FON designated BT Openzone hotspots, which are in general in domestic premises. This caused problems because BT FON routers also transmit the SSID 'BTOpenzone'; this means that smartphones which had previously been connected to BT Openzone would try to connect to FON hotspots (which require a FON account), due to the BT Openzone SSID being recognised from a previous connection. Access is denied as the smartphone coverage is limited to the cafe service, often referred to as the premium service, not domestic premises. 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.

More recently, BT seem to have rectified this in a firmware update for their BT FON routers, which now display the SSID as BTOpenzone-H with the "-H" suffix designating a home router, so the smartphone will now ignore the hotspot.


BT Openzone are roaming partners with the following Wi-Fi companies around the world:


  1. ^ BT Group (10 August 2010), Unlimited Wi-fi from over 4 million hotspots in the UK, BT Group 
  2. ^ Bill Ray (3 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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