Get Free Wi-Fi, While It's Hot?

A writer for PC Magazine has decided that free WiFi has a limited lifetime, and we should all enjoy it now, while we can, because it isn’t going to last. There are a few points throughout the article that show he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, but the last paragraph is the kicker: “The free-wheeling times of open-access hot-spotting will, just like the Internet before it, make the shift to pay-as-you-go. And this will happen much faster than it did with the Internet. Internet-related business owners and service providers are much smarter now, and they know they need only tease you for a little while to get you hooked.” Of course, this ignores the fact that (a) many of the wireless connections are not being provided by for-profit ventures (b) most people can think beyond the “direct payment” model to realize that there are other business models where “free WiFi” makes sense. Most people providing free WiFi aren’t doing it to “hook users” into paying. They’re enticing them to go into a cafe and buy some food, or out to a park where the city hopes you’ll patronize local businesses. If anything, the evidence has shown that things are going in the other direction, and the “for-pay” WiFi offerings are discovering that it’s a difficult market when you do charge. And, because I can’t pick on careless reporters enough, I should point out that most of the internet isn’t “pay-as-you-go” either – including PC Magazine’s website.

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