Can Public Hotspots Make Money?

from the forget-it dept

With all the hype about Wifi hotspots lately, most people still don’t think it’s possible to make money by offering public Wifi access. The economics just don’t support it, according to people in the industry. Some companies figure the best plan is just to focus on business travelers. However, some think that the “coffee shop” model, could work. By offering wireless access as a way to draw people into coffe shops and restaurants, it could be useful as a marketing tool to get more customers. I think a lot of the problem is that many people simply don’t know about or understand Wifi right now. As more computers get integrated WiFi and people get used to using wireless access in the home, demand will increase for hotspots in more public places.

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Comments on “Can Public Hotspots Make Money?”

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David says:

what's to stop...

passwords…like at starbucks, where i have to have a t-mobile account. even if t-mobile didn’t charge me, they could make me get a password (a la free webmail) so that they could make sure that i at least had a relationship with them and they could count me as a user.

buying the food/coffee is kind of like asking if i looked at the ads on hotmail…not often, but a ‘sale’ every once in awhile keeps the revenue flowing…

Scleigel says:

Could work

At the very least, they’d be attracting people who either can afford a laptop or are important enough to get one for work. Whether they’re cheap bastards or not, they should at least be able to afford a cup of coffee.

The question is, how much will it cost to set up and maintain these networks, and will they be easy to keep running. If you advertise WiFi and don’t deliver, that’s worse than not offering it in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

PPFA protocol

PayPal for Access Protocol

Linux/*BSD .iso image, some spare hardware with
two NICs + port 80/25/110 redirector.

Customer walks in, turns on netstumbler, gets
assigned an IP address, tries to browse, sees
a page saying 50cents per 1 hour DHCP lease…
please pay with paypal.

build the image/solution and split the revenue
with the access point/bandwidth/gateway hardware
owner/provider. Probably have to use some crypto
to keep the pirates from duping the idea by just
changing the paypal destination account.

Of course it would be even slicker if you reverse
engineered the firmware for popular access points,
accomplishing the same sort of solution and then
war drived around installing it on unsecured
access points. I guess you’d need one of those
off-shore PayPal accounts then…

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