Wi-Fi ISP BT Openzone is to launch a pay as you go option in a bid to kick start consumer demand for broadband hotspot access.

At £6 an hour, many have thus far been put off using BT's hotspots, which are found in hotels, airports, motorway stations and selected coffee shops. With the arrival of a pay as you go, customers wanting to quickly check their email in the hotel lobby or over cup of Costa coffee without coughing up for an entire hour's worth can now do so. Pricing for the new option has yet to be confirmed.

Sadly an interoperable payment system between different hotspot suppliers isn't on the cards, Steve Andrews, BT Retail managing director for products and enterprises, told PC Advisor.

In other words customers who take up a subscription with BT Openzone will be able to use hotspots at selected Costa Coffee outlets, but will face a completely different payment system if they find themselves at a Starbucks instead, which is supplied by BT rival T-Mobile.

Meanwhile BT Openzone is gearing up for a New Year publicity push by offering a week's worth of free Openzone surfing. From Monday 26 January through to Sunday 1st February 2004, anyone registering with BT Openzone will be given seven days of unlimited Openzone hotspot access, free of charge.

According to Andrews, the past three months has seen a 300 percent increase in the number of online minutes racked up by hotspot users. The promotion is part of a million pound campaign to generate mass awareness and availability of public access Wi-Fi.