Signaling a key shift in strategy, Verizon Wireless announced plans Monday to offer new and existing FiOS Internet and digital subscriber line (DSL) customers access to more than 13,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide at no additional charge. Verizon will be offering free Wi-Fi access through an extension of its existing partnership with Boingo Wireless, which already provides free Wi-Fi connections for Verizon business customers. Although Verizon had once viewed Wi-Fi as an unwelcome rival against the company’s subscription-based third-generation wireless broadband service, sources say that the company changed its stance as competitors such as AT&T and Cablevision began offering Wi-Fi as part of a quadruple-play package that aims to keep customers connected any place at any time. Late last year, AT&T expanded its wireless broadband footprint to more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots through its acquisition of Wayport, while, earlier this year, Cablevision confirmed it would spend $300 million to bring Wi-Fi access to the company’s Optimum Online customers. Although the agreement with Boingo allows Verizon to extend free Wi-Fi access to its 80 million wireless customers nationwide, Verizon said that, initially, it would offer Wi-Fi at no charge to FiOS customers who order minimum download speeds of 25 Mbps and to DSL subscribers who order services of 3 Mbps/768 Kbps or higher. The service will also work exclusively with laptops and netbooks equipped with Windows Vista or XP, although other wireless-enabled devices, such as PDAs, are expected to be supported at a later date. Describing his company’s new Wi-Fi service as “an expansion of the way we see mobility,” Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe proclaimed, “we are broadening how people use the Internet when they aren’t at home, and we’re doing it because our customers have told us it’s what they want.”