Other WiFi Hotspot Business Models

Here at Techdirt, we’re not shy about our belief that it’s going to be very difficult to make money providing commercial hotspots if your business model is to charge directly for them. There are too many reasons why this model just doesn’t work. Pricing pressures will drive the prices way down, and all the middlemen who want their cut won’t find it worthwhile any more. However, people are starting to come up with more innovative business models. I still think the straightforward “free WiFi brings in more business” business model is a sensible one for many retail establishments, but over at Smart Mobs they’ve noticed another interesting suggestion. Someone says that any free wireless hotspot that wants to make money should offer up an initial advertiser supported splash screen when you first log on. I’m a little skeptical of many ad-supported business models because they often require a lot more overhead than people expect (mostly in the form of salespeople to bring in the advertisers). However, this is certainly an interesting idea. As long as the advertising isn’t to intrusive or annoying, and just pops up initially, I imagine most people wouldn’t mind that “cost” to get onto a free hotspot.

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