AT&T, the second largest mobile service provider in the U.S., plans to expand Wi-Fi hot zones for its wireless network, including iPhones, to major markets. The company will expand its Wi-Fi access around Times Square in New York and introduce its first hotspot in San Francisco, reports Zach’s Investment Research (

Earlier this year, AT&T deployed Wi-Fi hot zones in New York City’s Times Square, downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chicago’s Wrigleyville to support mobile broadband in urban areas. These zones provide fast data service to AT&T customers, says Zach’s.

Wi-Fi is gaining popularity as more customers are adopting Wi-Fi enabled devices. It is a cost-effective to wireless broadband over AT&T’s 3G network. In the third quarter of 2010, AT&T handled 106.9 million Wi-Fi connections on its network, more than the 85.5 million connections that were made during full year 2009.

“AT&T is pursuing mobile broadband services, which are currently the industry’s most powerful growth driver,” says Zach’s. ” In mid-2011, AT&T plans to roll out LTE, which will offer a peak speed of 100 Mbps and cover between 70 million and 75 million people by the end of the year. Sprint Nextel currently extends its 4G network in 68 U.S. markets via Clearwire Corp.’s network. Verizon Communication’s has recently launched its 4G services, which will be available in 39 markets.”