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Free wireless hotspots are being offered by a rapidly growing number of businesses, according to a report in the Times.

As well as fast-food restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops, travel companies are also beginning to offer customers wireless internet while they travel.

Citing statistics by online wireless directory Jiwire.com, the article asserts that there may already be as many as 26,800 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.

It notes that Mcdonald's has signed a deal with the Cloud to deliver high-speed internet via wireless in 1,200 of its restaurants throughout the country.

Furthermore, public sector bodies are also showing an interest in Wi-Fi, with Birmingham council teaming up with BT to develop the Birmingham Fiz project, which provides wireless internet access covering a square mile of the city centre.

Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff are also said to be involved in similar schemes, while BT also plans to bring its Wireless City scheme to Sheffield, Bristol, Nottingham, Portsmouth and Glasgow in the future.

The news follows a recent announcement that BT Total Broadband customers can access Wi-Fi services in courts around the country for free.

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