Makati City, May 14, 2003 -- The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. 
(PLDT), through its Internet subsidiary ePLDT, has bought into local 
wireless Internet service provider Airborne Access Corp., an official said 
on Tuesday.

Airborne Chief Executive Jay Fajardo said the PLDT buy-will not result in 
any name change for Airborne.

Fajardo said that the buy-in would result in the deployment of 30 wireless 
fidelity (Wi-Fi) hotspots in the country in the following month, and 60 in 
100 days. Both Airborne Access and ePLDT have 22 Wi-Fi hostspots combined, 
all of which are spread around in Metro Manila.

"This development validates the (impact of this) technology," Fajardo stated.

Last year, Fajardo said that the company was considering "interconnection 
arrangements" with ePLDT's Wi-Fi hotspots to increase its footprint in the 
country. ePLDT launched its own wireless Internet service, dubbed Blink, 
through a partnership with Cisco Systems and coffee shop franchise Figaro.

With the merger, the executive said that the Airborne Access would likely 
bundle its Wi-Fi services with PLDT's Internet services.

Wireless hotspots are physical areas (usually indoors) where mobile 
Internet users can get connected to a high-speed Internet through a 
specified radio frequency under a technology called wireless high-fidelity. 
Now popular in the US, wireless hotspots allow mobile users to remain 
connected without cables from a distance of 300 up to 1,500 feet from a hub.

To access wireless hotspots in the country, users have to subscribe to 
services provided by companies like Airborne Access or ePLDT.

In the Philippines, wireless hotspots are still relatively few. But the 
demand for wireless Internet connectivity is expected to grow as the uptake 
of laptops and personal digital assistants in the Philippines also 
increase, Fajardo said.

"Last year, the term Wi-Fi was so esoteric. At least now, people know about 
it, perhaps partly due to aggressive marketing of companies like Intel," 
Fajardo added.

Airborne Access has been targeting enterprise users who were likely armed 
with mobile PCs.

To date, Fajardo said that majority of Airborne Access customers are 
pre-paid users who only buy small denominations for quick access on their 
Wi-Fi networks.

Airborne offers 1,000 pesos a month for subscription to unlimited wireless 
Internet access in different areas where its services are available.

Globe Telecom affiliate Globequest is also scheduled to announce its Wi-Fi 
initiative this week. (With Inquirer report)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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