Wi-Fi Experiment Has Customers Asking 'Why?'

I spent the last few weeks in New York, and after a hectic day of meetings all over Manhattan I decided to head into a Starbucks to use their Wi-Fi service to catch up on some work (my original plan to use the free Bryant Park Wi-Fi network was destroyed by the fact that it was raining and cold). I ended up sitting in a very high traffic Starbucks near Rockefeller Center for almost four hours, and I was definitely the only person using their Wi-Fi service. At one point (about three and a half hours in) another customer asked me if I was using the Wi-Fi there and a few others gathered round to ask me how it worked. Other than that, no one took any interest in me, or the Wi-Fi service itself. What struck me is that, despite the press releases from T-Mobile on the subject, it’s incredibly difficult to find promotional material about the service anywhere in the store itself. Most people would have no idea it existed. At the same time, the pricing is ridiculous. For someone who just wants to use it occasionally, there is no reasonable pricing plan. So, is it really that big of a surprise that it’s been slow to take off? An admittedly anecdotal experience (though, it meshes with my experience) shows that not many people are using it. The staff at Starbucks is not well-informed about it, and they have no incentive to promote it. People who use it seem to like it, but the pricing is not very appealing. I’m wondering if poor implementations like this are going to lead companies like T-Mobile to give up on these types of hotspots.

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