Boingo Recruiting For Wi-Fi Hotspots

from the yes...-but... dept

Boingo’s founder/CEO Sky Dayton spoke at the 802.11 Planet Fall 2002 Conference yesterday trying to convince people that there really is a business model behind providing hotspots. Boingo is going to reduce the price of their “hotspot in a box” technology to $300 in the near future (which, of course, does not include internet access). He goes through a long, somewhat convoluted and misleading argument, as to why it will be possible for everyone to make money off of Wi-Fi hotspots. Here’s the problem, though: there are too many players. There’s the actual provider of the hotspot (usually a retail location or a hotel), there’s the broadband provider, there’s the equipment providers, and, of course, there’s the middleman/hotspot software providers. Already, we’ve been talking about how all of these hotspots-for-pay busines models are too expensive. When you realize that every player in the value chain wants to take a cut, you can see why the prices are so high. I still don’t think there’s a big market for people to pay for Wi-Fi access, unless coverage was much more widespread. Instead, I think the real market is for retail locations to look at offering free (or perhaps incredibly inexpensive) Wi-Fi as an enticement to make people visit their location and spend money on whatever it is that they sell. I’ve said before that Starbucks shouldn’t be in the ISP business… I’m not sure why Boingo thinks they want to be.

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