AT&T iPhone users will not be getting free Wi-Fi access after all.
For the second time in less than six months, AT&T mistakenly published a notice on its Web site indicating that Apple iPhone users would get free access to the wireless operator's more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots around the country.
News of free access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots was reported on several blogs Friday morning after it was discovered that a notice had been posted on AT&T's Web site. The notice, which was still live at 8:30 a.m. PDT but then was removed by 9:30 a.m., said:
"AT&T knows Wi-Fi is hot, and free Wi-Fi even hotter, which is why we are proud to offer iPhone customers free access to the nation's largest Wi-Fi hot-spot network with more than 17,000 hot spots, including Starbucks. Now users can relax and access music, e-mail, and Web browsing services with their favorite blend in hand from the comfort of their favorite location."
But Wes Warnock, an AT&T spokesman, told CNET News that the notice was published in error.
"We have not made any announcement regarding free Wi-Fi and iPhone," he said in an e-mail. "The Web page was posted in error and is being removed."
The same thing happened in May when AT&T first launched free Wi-Fi access to its Laptop Connect customers, who subscribe to the company's 3G data service for laptops. Then, like now, a notice had been published briefly on AT&T's Web site indicating free Wi-Fi access for iPhone users. It was promptly removed. And at the time, a company representative told The New York Times that the notice had been published in error.
I asked Warnock why AT&T had inadvertently published this information not once, but twice, and he had no comment. An AT&T spokesman had told me when the Laptop Connect program launched that smartphones, including the iPhone, would be added to the list of free of Wi-Fi access later in the year. But when I asked Warnock to verify this information, he again declined to comment.
It's frustrating enough as it is sifting through the barrage of iPhone rumors and misinformation on the Web. But to have misinformation disseminated by AT&T's official Web site is even more disconcerting. I'd love to hear what readers have to say on this matter. I can't imagine it's winning AT&T any points among customers or potential customers in terms of customer service.