updated 4/19/2004 8:34:57 PM ET 2004-04-20T00:34:57

Sprint Corp. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. have reached a wireless Internet roaming agreement for five U.S. airports.

The deal announced Monday will allow Sprint PCS customers to use AT&T Wireless' Wi-Fi network at Denver International, Philadelphia International and Raleigh-Durham International airports. AT&T Wireless customers will be able to use Sprint's Wi-Fi network at Kansas City International and Salt Lake City International airports.

Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, radiates a high-speed Internet connection that many computers can share for about 300 feet -- a single "hot spot."

The deal between Redmond, Wash.-based AT&T Wireless and Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint allows the companies' respective Wi-Fi customers to "roam" using their existing accounts.

AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, forged a similar agreement in February.

Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst based in Atlanta, compared the agreement with those that many companies have that allow their wireless phone customers to roam onto competitors' networks.

Kagan said Wi-Fi customers currently must sign up with several providers to get service in more than one place, but he believes that will change.

"Ultimately, just like in the wireless phone business, roaming will become seamless so one account with one company will work everywhere," Kagan said. "This agreement is a big step toward that seamless future."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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