Hungarian operator Magyar Telekom has partnered with international Wi-Fi solutions company Fon to launch a free Wi-Fi service for customers called Telekom Wi-Fi Fon. Customers will be able to use the internet outside their homes without any data limits or excess charges, in nearly 2,000 locations in Hungary and some 20 countries worldwide over Fon’s Wi-Fi network. Magyar Telekom is establishing what it describes Hungary’s largest Wi-Fi network with the help of its home gateways, which will be opened up for shared access by subscribers. After the launch of the Telekom Fon service, subscribers of the operator’s Next XL, Next S, M, Music S, M and XS tariff packages will be granted automatic access to the national Wi-Fi network, free of charge. In addition, with the Telekom Fon Premium Service, subscribers of Travel & Surf S, M and L roaming data packages, as well as EU 100 and EU Plusz roaming options will be able to connect free of charge to nearly 20 million Fon hotspots worldwide in 20 countries.
Publically available Wi-Fi networks are proliferating in many markets worldwide, filling various functions. In some cases, Wi-Fi offloads traffic from overtaxed cellular networks; in others, it helps make up for gaps in coverage. In the case of Magyar Telekom, it is being advertised by the operator as an alternative to cellular service, a way for customers to use data on the go without worrying about allowances and overages. While this offer of free access to data outside the home or office could be construed as cannibalizing cellular service, it could also be an incentive for potential new subscribers to sign on to the operator’s plans in order to gain the Wi-Fi Fon advantage.
Furthermore, some existing customers may currently not use much data due to concerns about cost, so enabling them to access data via Wi-Fi would not be cutting into their cellular data consumption. In fact, use of Wi-Fi data could very well cause them to get accustomed to a higher level of data usage, which could lead them to eventually consume more data on the cellular network, as well, thus increasing revenue for the operator. Therefore, we consider this partnership to be a good strategy for Magyar Telekom.