LONDON: The UK's largest telco, BT Group, has hooked up with Spanish wireless internet firm FON in a bid to build the world's biggest wi-fi network.

BT hopes to persuade its three million British broadband customers to turn their home wireless hubs into public hotspots, thus allowing users improved access to the web while on the move.

Those taking part will get free access to FON's 190,000 wi-fi hotspots in countries including Japan, the US, Spain and France, as well as when in range of other BT FON users.

BT believes the move will let it compete more effectively with mobile phone operators in offering online access on the go.

Declares Gavin Patterson, MD of the telco's consumer arm: "I think it will be a major growth area for us and lead to several tens if not hundreds of thousands of customers opting in."

He adds: "This is the start of something very exciting for BT. We are launching a people's network of wi-fi, which could one day cover every street in Britain."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff