O2 has taken another step in the move to dominate the UK high street with the provision of free WiFi. We like this game, as telecoms companies go for the land grab, we get to find more WiFi on the move.

Debenhams is the latest to launch today with free O2 WiFi throughout all of its 167 shops, which, it says, is the largest WiFi coverage of any department store in the UK.

As you might expect, this will mean that customers can use smartphones and tablets to connect. As this is Debenhams’ show, there will be information about the stores and special deals sewn into the service.

deb200 Debenhams is the latest UK high street retailer to roll out free O2 WiFiTo underline this launch, the Debenhams app has seen one million downloads. The app can be used in store to scan barcodes and users have done just that – around 250,000 times. The retailer says that 20% of its online traffic now comes from mobile devices. A good example where catering to mobile really makes sense.

The combination of app and WiFi means that shoppers in the department store can check sizes for availability via the barcode, ask friends what they think about a product, view the store layout if they get lost, arrange for later delivery of items and snag a few discount vouchers.

If an item is out of stock in a particular location, it can be ordered in via the app or delivered to a user’s home.

O2 has been working hard to hit the spots where plenty of consumers gather. More recently it has rolled out WiFi in McDonalds, and the Costa coffee chain. There has been talk of this all being aimed at the Olympics, but you might also remember that O2 has been trialling a VoIP app for free calls over WiFi. Maybe this is leading to a real disruption of telecoms and some work to take on the dominant VoIP providers like Skype, Nymgo and Rebtel?

To use the signal, customers need to register once to O2 WiFi and then they will be automatically connected whenever they are in range. In the spirit of sharing, the WiFi is available to everyone, regardless of their mobile or broadband provider.

If you’re not fond of shopping as a sport and hobby, then a little connectivity might go a long way to making the process easier. That said, if you really don’t like it, you can still shop from home.

Image Credit: Loz Flowers