National Wi-Fi networks have been emerging from the top down and from the bottom up. Top-down network vendorssuch as AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile Hotspot, and Verizonwere already in the telecommunications business. These companies decided that there was a business opportunity in meeting the needs of people like you and me by creating a Wi-Fi network.
The bottom-up vendors, such as Boingo Wireless and Wayport, came from a different place. They were entrepreneurs who figured that there was an opportunity in the new, "disruptive" Wi-Fi technology.
Although the business of providing Wi-Fi access remains fragmented, some major national networks are coalescing. It has become clear that to survive from a business viewpoint, the networks need to reach a critical mass.
Table 10.1 shows the national U.S. networks that seem to be approaching the size of infrastructure (meaning the number of hotspots) necessary for long-term survival. I've provided telephone numbers and Web addresses for the networks. This contact information might be useful if you want to do further research or if you decide that you want to sign up with a specific network. It could also help if you are traveling to an area that is particularly well served by a specific provider.