Kinko's Goes Wireless

By Eric Griffith

April 14, 2003

The chain of stores, known for making copies, has long provided Internet access. It will soon have over 1000 locations outfitted with Wi-Fi for that purpose, courtesy of T-Mobile Hotspot.

This morning T-Mobile and Kinko's both announced an agreement to put T-Mobile Hotspot services in over 1000 Kinko's locations for use by Wi-Fi equipped customers.

T-Mobile spokesperson Bryan Zidar says the ink is still wet on the deal; the Kinko's deployments will not be active until the fourth quarter of this year. Eventually the company hopes to expand it to Kinko's locations around the world.

They hope to build in functionality so customers can print directly from their own laptops to Kinko's facilities.

Kinkos, with its headquarters in Dallas, TX, has over 1,100 "digitally connected locations" which offer not only printing and document services but also Internet access and video conferencing facilities. The company said in announcement that adding Wi-Fi access via T-Mobile will be "a new way for our customers to tap into the power of our network of locations, experts and business services."

While Kinko's users might already enjoy a connection provided by cable modem or DSL connection, the T-Mobile Hotspots will still have a T1 line as backhaul to the Internet, just like previous hotspots from T-Mobile.

"We want a consistent network topology so it's consistent across all locations -- like a Starbucks cup of coffee, [it should be] the same in all locations," says Zidar. "It's...a consistent experience."

T-Mobile, the mobile telecommunications subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom based in Bellvue, WA, operates over 2,300 hotspots in the United States, making it the country's largest hotspot provider. Locations running T-Mobile service include Starbucks Coffee Shops, Borders Books & Music, and select airport and American Airlines Admirals Clubs. The company recently made news when it dropped the price of its hotspot services. The cost is now $29.99 per month with a one year subscription, or $39.99 per month with no commitment. The pay-as-you-go rate is $.10 per minute with a one hour (or $6 minimum). T-Mobile is also creating a new software client with Boingo that will integrate Wi-Fi and GPRS cellular connections for laptops.

T-Mobile will be adding hotspot services at clubs for Delta and United over the coming year. The company expects to have a total of 5000 hotspots by the end of 2003.

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