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Are Wifi Hot Spots The New Cold Air?

Next time you sit down in a cafe and realize you have a wifi signal, consider why. Wifi service is quickly becoming the air-conditioning of the Internet age, enticing customers into restaurants and other public spaces in the same way that cold “advertising air” deliberately blasted out the open doors of air-conditioned theaters in the early 20th century to help sell tickets, says The New York Times. Starbucks has become one of the main wifi chains with more than 5,100 stores nationwide.

Before you pop open your laptop, however, you need to pull out your credit card. Starbucks and its partner, T-Mobile, charge $6 an hour for the “pay as you go” plan. Day passes or monthly subscriptions are available but can be used only at Starbucks stores and other T-Mobile partners like Borders bookstores.

The trouble is, an increasing number of cafe chains and restaurants like McDonalds, are starting to offer wifi, but always for a price. Are customers really willing to spend hours in a cafe - as in long enough to buy more than one cup of Joe or sweet treat - or does hourly wireless access just push patrons out the door?

According to the Times, in the 1920s, when air-conditioning began to be installed in movie theaters, owners would spend about $50,000 (roughly equivalent to $570,000 today) to transform the property into a “cold spot.” Of course, cold air was harder to come by mid-summer in those days and crowds would gather, eat movie-theater treats and well, everyone was happy.

While wifi isn't as expensive as "cold air," it might be time for owners to consider throwing down free wifi for all. I know I'm more likely to get the chai and scone when I know the geeksugar access is free.

rissanoesbest rissanoesbest 10 years
yeah, but Panera spies on you and tracks your surfing....was told so by someone in the company. Oh well, it's
ikitty13 ikitty13 10 years
Yeah i like going to Panera, i don't think i would spend $6 an hour even though Starbucks had better ambiance.
brielleblonde brielleblonde 10 years
panera bread has free wifi!
bpjedi bpjedi 10 years
Yeah, I just don't bother to work at cafes that don't offer Wifi for free--most all of them in my 'hood have it for free.
kscincotta kscincotta 10 years
I have a monthly access pass at Starbucks because I'm there working at least three times a month. I can't help it, I just love it there.
1stharbinger 1stharbinger 10 years
In my area a lot of non-chain cafes have free wireless. I've never bothered to deal with Starbuck's wi-fi
Megatron Megatron 10 years
You could be like my mom. I was staying at her place for awhile and she was all, "the internet's in the air now..."(all mystical). It was quite entertaining. :rotfl:
macgirl macgirl 10 years
I hear Deidrich's Coffee has FREE wireless. I have my open wireless spots mapped on my way too and from clients so I haven't needed to use it but our Sales guy loves it. We installed a wireless place in a local pub/restaurant and they gave it away free with purchase. I can't tell you how many hours we have spent in that place racking up a nice tab after work ;-)
groby groby 10 years
I like my free WiFi, thank you very much. I simply stop frequenting places that want to charge for it.. (It's OK if you have slightly higher prices - you offer better service. But I refuse to pay for something that by now is basic service)
xxbrittney xxbrittney 10 years
boo on having a price
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