back to article Hey, O2 punters: Kiss goodbye to 4 MEELLION* Openzone hotspots

O2 customers will be kicked off BT Openzone, the UK-wide public Wi-Fi network, from 1 July. By ending its wireless sharing deal with BT, O2 will be reduced to relying on just 8,000 hotspots nationally, whereas Openzone has four million or so sites*. The Wi-Fi hotspots can be used by nearby laptops, phones, tablets and other …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poxy BT Wifi

    Wish my phone didn't try and use it everytime it comes in range

    1. MrXavia
      Thumb Down

      Re: Poxy BT Wifi

      Then change your settings, don't blame the wifi hotspot for existing

  2. Rajiv Dhir

    yes but I hate openzone, being paranoid, and having enough data in broadband plans, I don't want to be promiscuous with WiFi. I find it a general pain on devices, having to turn WiFi off when leaving the house to stop it connecting to Openzone.

    1. frank ly

      Oh, the pain

      A quick press of the power button to activate the screen, then a quick touch of the WiFi toggle widget on the lock screen, then a quick press of the power button to deactivate the screen - what a chore.

    2. Phil W

      So change your settings so that it doesn't connect to that SSID automatically. Then you can leave your WiFi on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have my phone set to not Auto Join, the problem is the things are so common the "connect to btwifi" appears quite often, Try walking around any town and see how often it appears. Especially when you at the extremes of range and it repeatly pops up.

        Yes I can disable Wifi when out, but it's a PITA

  3. FutureShock999

    Change of terms???

    Isn't the dropping of OpenZone a change in contract terms? They DO tout it heavily in their advertising.

    If so, then any smart O2 customer would immediately phone them and say that as O2 has breached their contract terms, they would like to cancel their service. As the new service has substantially less WiFi functionality, they MIGHT stay if there was a corresponding reduction in their contract price per month. Otherwise, off to a competitor you the millions...

    1. Mattjimf

      Re: Change of terms???

      Not really. I was kind of curious when you mentioned this so went onto the O2 website and found the following in their T&C under Services Agreement :

      2.10 Unless specified otherwise in a Related Agreement, we can add to, change, substitute, or discontinue any Additional Services we provide at any time. We don’t guarantee any particular Additional Services will continue to be available.

      And no I don't work for the company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Change of terms???

        It's not your opinion that matters. It's not even what's in the contract that matters - the company can put what words it likes in a UK consumer contract, but just because it says something in the contract, it ain't necessarily watertight.

        The customer still has the option to exercise consumer rights under such legislation as the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts and similar legislation.

        This sounds like a good opportunity for O2 customers to find out whether that particular term is deemed unfair or not. A term such as "we can change the service however we please whenever we please and you have no comeback" might well be held to be unenforceable.

        This legislation does not apply to business to business contracts, so tough luck if you're an O2 business customer.

      2. Captain Scarlet

        Re: Change of terms???

        Thumbs up for having so much free time to read the TOS.

      3. Velv

        Re: Change of terms???

        There might also be a clue in the URL


        OUR LATEST - so what was in the version that you signed. You may find that older contracts have different terms, may include BTOpenzone as a "feature" and not an "additional feature", and you won't have agreed to any changes unless they've notified you in the prescribed manner. There's no date or version on the web page so its only a copy, not a legally enforceable version.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Change of terms???

          These contracts are verbally sold on the fact they have free wifi. A verbal contract is as legally binding as a written one, but much harder to prove from a customer perspective. I have seen these sold as recently as march (on 24 month minimum term) with the promise of BTopenzone. Printed terms are not relevant after the verbal promise to provide that service.

          I am sure that there are all sorts of clauses to exclude things, but then that's a sh!tty trick to pull.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Change of terms???

            "I am sure that there are all sorts of clauses to exclude things, but then that's a sh!tty trick to pull."

            Correct. And in the case of a consumer contract, it is not just shotty, such clauses are likely to be unenforceable.

            The relevant regulator in the case of a UK telco is Ofcon, which is generally bad news.

            However, in a recent case involving unfair contract terms, Ofcon seem to have at least thought about doing the right thing. The case in question involves the mobileco's alleged right to increase the costs of "fixed price" contracts during the lifetime of the contract. Ofcon has just finished 'consulting' the industry on whether such increases should require punters to be able to terminate their contracts without penalty.

            Verdict from Ofcon on this is due in June, but in the meantime, no harm in contacting Ofcon, Which?, Trading Standards, etc with a view to obtaining an opinion on whether this constitutes a "get out of contract free" opportunity.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK's low data price not...

    Until you visit the uk.

    Then get home and have to sell your flat to pay the data roaming bill.

    1. Greg 16

      Re: UK's low data price not...

      I'm sure the foreign network is paying the UK networks a low rate - what your network then decides to charge you when you get home is a different matter.

    2. Phil W

      Re: UK's low data price not...

      Indeed. As a foreigner visiting good old blighty, you are still a customer of your home network and paying whatever rates they deem fit to charge you.

      You can of course get a PAYG sim while here, many UK networks offer a fair chunk of data with as little as a £10 top up (not to mention that you could also use the £10 for data).

  5. banjomike

    Charging? OK

    A 'free' WiFi supplier would not have to charge the end user a lot before it became cost effective to upgrade our contracts to a larger data allowance and stuff the WiFi altogether. O2 WiFi is hopeless to connect to.

    1. fixit_f
      Thumb Down

      Re: Charging? OK

      Unfortunately, you're assuming that their mobile data infrastructure is up to the job of replacing a reasonable wifi connection - it's not, the coverage is poor and slow, it's been creaky ever since they got the exclusive deal on the iPhone when it first came out. I gave up and left them about a year ago.

  6. Don Dumb

    BT Openzone - the fake service

    When I was an O2 customer, it seemed that there were very few actual Openzone hotspots. Most of them were in reality BT FON hotspots, usable by BT customers. It infuriated me everytime I connected to an Openzone spot only to find that it then brought up the BT FON splashpage and asked me to pay. Only a couple of times did I get a real Openzone hotspot which allowed me to enter my O2 mobile number and use the service.

    I quickly learned to stop automatically connecting to Openzone and check when the phone showed the list of Wifi access points - when BT Openzone appeared with BT FON, it was really just a BT FON. After a while I just stopped using Openzone at all. Losing The Cloud at Train stations was a much bigger loss. But now I'm not with O2, I've gone to 3 with unlimited data so that I need to use hotspots much less anyway.

    1. dogged

      Re: BT Openzone - the fake service


      I've literally never found an OpenZone hotspot that wasn't FON and didn't demand money.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: BT Openzone - the fake service

        And as a BT Openzone customer, I have never found a BT Fon hotspot which worked. Complete waste of time.

  7. Complicated Disaster


    I'm amazed that more venues don't just put in their own free wi-fi to attract punters rather than expecting people to pay for these "premium" services.

    1. Colin Miller

      Re: Baffled

      I suspect that if a business makes its WiFi available to all and sundry, then its owners are liable when someone accesses kiddyporn via it. However, Cloud/FON/OpenZone et al will have sufficient logging to point the finger at registered email address (which isn't verified, but that's a different matter...)

      1. Gavin Chester

        Re: Baffled

        I used to be a member of Fon, one thing repeatedly asked was how they would to any filtering or detection or dubious content. They used to do 30 mins free access for watching a video and leaving an email address. All you needed to sign up was an email address, even a disposable GMail or Hotmail one.

        Fon always said they would co operate fully but never said how they would.

    2. Velv

      Re: Baffled

      It's a legal thing. If you make an Internet service available to the public then you become an ISP and need to be registered as such.

      Technically there's nothing stopping you installing a line and wifi access points, but you are the customer of that ISP and their agreement does not normally extend to permit access by the public.

      Or you buy a "Public WiFi" service from BT, TheCloud, O2, Spectrum, etc as ISPs registered to provide public access.

      1. Mr Anonymous

        Re: Baffled


        "It's a legal thing. If you make an Internet service available to the public then you become an ISP and need to be registered as such." What a load of guf, no such thing as being registered as an ISP.

      2. Elmer Phud

        Re: Baffled

        "Technically there's nothing stopping you installing a line and wifi access points, but you are the customer of that ISP and their agreement does not normally extend to permit access by the public."

        Or just use BT?

        I have the choice to open up for sharing -- that gives me access to other peoples wireless which is fair do's.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Baffled

          "I have the choice to open up for sharing -- that gives me access to other peoples wireless which is fair do's."

          Have you actually tried doing this? There's a big hint about how well it actually works in some of the other posts.

    3. FutureShock999

      Re: Baffled

      I assume that you, like most good El Reg readers, have a VPN installed on your mobile device, so that you can ensure the end to end security of your logins and passwords when using out-of-home wifi.

      However, the general public does not. And if I were THEM, there is no freakin' way I would log into generic "FREE PUB WIFI!!!!". Gack. You might as well scream "Please log my passwords and ID!"...

      At least with branded WIFI, you do have some assurance that at least the device itself is not logging your details if you don't have a VPN....or so you can hope.

      1. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: Baffled

        "At least with branded WIFI, you do have some assurance that at least the device itself is not logging your details if you don't have a VPN....or so you can hope."

        I dunno, its pretty easy to fake the ssid and hoover up pw`s etc. I presume most devices will just connect to a router with an ssid of `BTOpenzone` or `BTFon` without checking if its actually a real BT hotspot.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Baffled

      You'll find for the most part that the venues have cluelessly let someone else supply the wifi "at no cost to you" and it's the third party who's charging.

      There's also the issue of complying with RIPA, which puts a lot of places off wanting to deal wtih giving away internet access for free.

  8. thesykes

    news to this soon to be ex-O2 customer

    "Customers ... were informed of the change in service by email."

    Errr... apparently not all customers were.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: news to this soon to be ex-O2 customer

      It's all part of Telefonica's now widely touted "drive to provide a complete digital experience".

      Sell digital broadband.

      buy a pretty useless chunk of digital 4g

      stop using digital BTopenzone

      I know they say that they have o2 wifi, but then, so does literally everybody else, so what's in it for o2 customers?

      I can see this drive for digital excellence being a race to secure 4g customers at all costs, but without actually being able to provide a half decent or even affordable service.

      And yes, I do work for Telefonica, but am increasingly concerned that I may not do for much longer (but as long as the shareholders are hoodwinked in the short term, that seems to be acceptable).

      1. portreconfig

        Re: news to this soon to be ex-O2 customer

        To VDR or not VDR, that is the capita.

  9. Lee Taylor

    Not sure what the real issue is here. In our small town I can happly get free Cloud at most of the local pubs. Even out local Greggs has free Cloud and it only big enough for 4 customers at time to que for baked treats!

    I'm not one for wanting to stand outside some misfortunate BT customers house in the rain to use their wifi....

    I'm on 02 and was never offered free wifi with my contract, then again its that old it also doesnt have a "fair usuage" cap on the unlimted data :->

    1. PhilBuk
      Thumb Down

      Oh, the Bloody Cloud

      Fine if you've got half an hour to spare typing in false crap to log in. We have Cloud at my local. It's faster to turn WiFi off and use the crap 3G signal.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But O2 Wifi is free regardless of your network..

    isn't it?

  11. Abstract Noise

    What's Openzone?

    I tried Openzone over a period of about six months, starting a couple of years ago when the iPhone 4 was still the new and "in thing" to have. I even got into a some heated email conversations with various chiefs at BT over the fact that BT Openzone often wasn't BT Openzone, but BT FON, or in some cases another paid-only variant that appeared at coffee-shops, airport terminals and the like. All I was asking was for them to separate SSID's according to the actual service offered - but apparently that would have been too expensive. Perish the thought of actually making it easier for a customer to spend money on using their service...

    Even when I *could* find a genuine Openzone hotspot, authentication against my O2 account would invariably fail. And even when I did have authentication working on a Hotspot, there'd then be no actual data transfer beyond the authentication transactions themselves.

    So all in all, while I want to be annoyed at the removal of yet another part of my contract, I say good riddance to even having the option.

    Nuke, because sometimes that *really is* the only option.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      the shared SSID's is the thing that winds me up most

      spot on for trying to argue it out

    2. Don Dumb

      Re: What's Openzone?

      Yes, same as my experiences in my post above. I did think about going to the ASA - they claim 4 million access points but most of them just aren't - false advertising in my opinion. What's really frustrating is that I didn't automatically access any Openzone hotspots as they were usually BT FON. But then generally missed the real hotspots as a result.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. KTM Gordo

    Hotspot? Lukewarm at best...

    It doesn't seem to matter who operates any given 'hotspot': the chances of it working correctly are slim. As an O2 customer (not 02 - no idea who they are) I gave using The Cloud or BT Openzone hotspots long ago as invariably whilst it was possible to connect to the network, routing seldom materialised.

    O2 hotspots seems better than most, but there's still no guarantee that they'll work.

    And has others have said, finding a BT Openzone hotspot that allowed O2 users to use it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

  14. Roger Gann
    Thumb Down

    You can't miss what you never had.

    It's no great loss - I never ever got decent bandwidth with any of the 'free' WiFi providers bundled with my O2 contract. In the end I gave up bothering - it got to the point where I would turn off the WiFi to do something as pathetically mundane as look at a web page - 3G was actually faster and actually worked.

    Which is a complete contrast with the WiFi service offered by Virgin Media on the London Underground - when it first went live about a year ago, getting a 20Mbps connection was not exceptional. If only ...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use O2 Wifi, it seems pretty good for a free service, speeds always seem good for what I want to do.

    By contrast, I gave up on both BT and the Cloud due to the pailful sign in process (O2 Wifi seems to connect automatically and doesn't ask me to log in each time) and sloooooooow speeds.

    I must confess I haven't used the Virgin Underground coverage yet though.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      I found The Cloud to be pretty good, and was disappointed to lose it as an option. BT Openzone however never worked for me, so in practice it won't make any difference not having it. I do have an old contract with "unlimited" data, so I will probably stick with them.

  16. Gav

    No loss

    O2 Wifi access has always been crap, so this is no loss.

    Their current Wifi app contains within its terms and conditions an agreement that O2 can profile your Wifi use, and then sell that on to third parties, along with your phone number. Can't wait to get me some of that!

    And BT Openzone is not much better. The BT wi-fi app constantly bombs out, and rarely successfully connects to anything.

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: No loss

      You need an app to access them?

      Weird. :)

      1. Gav

        Re: No loss

        The apps verify that you have an appropriate broadband contract, permitting access to the WiFi.

        I don't know exactly how it works, because I uninstalled it after getting near constant freezes due to it attempting, and failing, to connect.

  17. Chubster

    Dunno, I don't have an app to access it.

  18. Joe Montana

    Useless service

    Like many, i always found the btopenzone service from o2 completely useless...

    When they offered the cloud, i could set my phone to automatically connect and would find myself in various locations (primarily around london) where it worked just fine... It was also very useful in london, as the 3g network was often overloaded while wifi was generally usable.

    With openzone if i set it to auto connect, i found that the vast majority of openzone access points just didn't let me on, so while i was in the vicinity of one email wouldn't arrive on my phone anymore which was highly irritating.

    Because of this i virtually never used the openzone service.

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